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University of California • Berkeley 

The Peter and Rosell Harvey 
Memorial Fund 










Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1888, by 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All Rights Reserved. 


So full of oddities, and crudities, and strange devel- 
opments, consequent upon unprecedented combina- 
tions of nationalities, characters and conditions, were 
the flush times of California, that to condense them 
into the more solid forms of history without to some 
extent stifling the life that is in them and marring 
their originality and beauty is not possible. There 
are topics and episodes and incidents which cannot 
be vividly portrayed without a tolerably free use of 
words — T do not say a free use of the imagination. 

Much has been written of the Californian Inferno 
of 1849 and the years immediately following, much 
that is neither fact nor fable. Great and gaudy 
pictures have been painted, but few of them bear 
much resemblance to nature. Many conceits have 
been thrown off by fertile brains which have given 
their authors money and notoriety ; but the true 
artist who, with the hand of the master drawing from 
life, places before the observer the all-glowing facts, 
unbesmeared by artificial and deceptive coloring, has 
yet to appear. 

No attempt is made in these pages to outdo my 
predecessors in morbid intensifications of the certain 
phases of society and character engendered of the 
times. They contain simple sketches and plain de- 
scriptions, historical rather than fantastical, with no 
effort toward effect. 





















EL DORADO , 225 








SOCIETY , ffl4 






























Hortensio peace, tliou knowest not gold's eflfect. 

— Tamiwj of the SliretP. 

Drunk ! aye, drunk with avarice I Behold the pic- 
ture ; CaHfornia in her cups 1 

Once long ago sailors thought to hold in their em- 
brace the god Bacchus, whom they carried to sea in 
the form of a beautiful boy while sleeping; but when 
the god awoke he caused vines to twine themselves 
about the ship, and tigers to appear amongst the 
branches, while the sailors went mad and drowned 
themselves. So it was with thousands who camo 
early to California, thinking to ensnare her, and rob 
her of her treasures, but were themselves taken cap- 
tive, falling on destruction. 

Yet swiftly as this chaff of immigration was swept 
away, mercilessly as California frowned on many, she 
was not so much to blame, although for a brief space 
she played the bacchante, for she was badly treated, 
worse than Pentheus, who from making open war on 
Dionysius became the devotee and laughing-stock of 

Cal. Int. Poc. 1 


the avenging deity, and bereft of sense was led 
through the city in female apparel, stricken with 
mania, with a double sun and a double Thebes before 
his eyes, finally to be torn to pieces by women. First 
of all she was made to reveal her mystery, held sacred 
to the memories of time; for which extortion, like 
another Pythia, she was placed upon a tripod over 
the chasm Cassotis, and for a Delphic temple choos- 
ing the snow-powdered Sierra, and for the mephitic 
exhalations the less offensive incense from odorous 

Native to sublimated airs and all-engendering sun- 
shine, her intoxication partook more of youthful revels 
than chronic intemperance; nevertheless, thou wast 
drunk, California, as thou well knowest; as drunk as 
Agave when tearing in pieces her own son whom she 
took for a lion's cub. Thine hills were drunk from 
the fruit of their own vines; and in the great valley 
was heard the sullen roar of hell echoing hollow on 
the ear. All this was exceedingly disgraceful, and 
especially repulsive in young and lovely woman ; 
whereat, toward the immaculate east, conventional 
spinsters of untried chastity blushed and hung their 
heads, though never refusing to receive the fruits of 

Between two mountain systems stretches the valley 
of California, an elliptical, trough-like plain, five hun- 
dred miles in length by seventy-five in width ; a vast 
amphitheatre, from whose arena circling terraces rise 
up to the lofty canopy of a pearl and beryl sky — colos- 
sal benches, whereon the gods might sit and watch 
the strange doings of men. below. 

Although not gods we some day may be ; all gods 
were once men, or something worse. Therefore come 
sit with me upon the plateau-shelf up over the hill 
Mokelumne, near the source of the Stanislaus, where 
sometime sat Nemesis, eyeing the pilgrims as they 
entered the Golden Gate, and measuring out to them 


their several portions of invented woo. Five thou.-^- 
and feet below, and far as eye can reach, spreads out 
a periscope of beauty such as makes us loath to put 
off humanity even to be gods, lest mayhap as gods 
we should have no sympathy with scenes like this. 
Often have I thought when standing entranced before 
entrancing nature, what a pity it was we could not 
always have her scenes before us; and as for heaven, 
give it to those who are dissatisfied with earth. Only 
exterminate north winds, nervousness, and all rascal- 
ity, and I could rest contented yet awhile here upon 
this bench, though not a god. 

Walled in on every side, without loop-hole or portal 
save by passes to the plateau regions of Utah and 
Arizona, and the bay of San Francisco, which across 
the concave from where we sit, and midway between 
its north and south extremes, parts the Coast Range, 
whose green and grizzly hills it crowds back, and 
paves the way through the Golden Gate to the 
Pacific, we have before us what was once broad ocean, 
then an inland sea, afterward a hedged-in Eden, God- 
given to a thrice happy race, and later converted into 
a nineteenth-century coliseum, wherein was destined 
to be performed a play entitled The New Greed- 
struggle of the Nations. Time enough, however, to 
talk about that to-morrow. Sit still awhile and we 
shall presently see, out here upon this holiday of 
creation, elves and fays, if any there are left for these 
new Arcadian vales. We can offer them whereon to 
sport ground which one day will be as classic as that 
of Greece, plains up-swelling beneath their feet, and 
slopes of evergreen and sweeps of forest. Then 
there are warm inviting knolls under star-lit skies, 
and enchanted groves where heaven's witchery might 
wanton regardless of irate ocean on one side or 
shadowless deserts on the other. 

When this mighty Sierra was a-building, this 
grand up-lift, with its fluted sides flushed with never- 


dying foliage, its white-cushioned benches, and long 
serrated summits, its rocky pinnacles whose alabaster 
crests glisten lustrous to mariners a hundred miles 
away, when its crevices were being filled with molten 
gold, a sea of sorrow was about to roll at its base, for 
the squabble for tills treasure that is presently to 
come will be pitiful to see. 

Split a fern-stalk and place it in a dish with the 
thick ends together, and the leafy sides both lying 
toward the east, and you have mapped the drainage 
system of the California valley. The stalks are the 
two rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, 
which, rising respectively at either end of the great 
valley, graciously receive their tributaries as they wind 
through oak and poplar vistas; then rolling slowly 
on, ever slowly, once bright and clear with happy 
contentment, but presently opaque in sullen shade, 
on to their junction, and thence together to the 

And it is along this eastern side, where the branches 
and leaves and leaflets rest on the edges of the dish, 
and form labyrinths of ridges, and subordinate valleys 
upon which are flung in infinite disorder, bluffs, 
chasms, and smoothly rounded stone-waves heaped 
almost mountain high, that we have the Sierra foot- 
hills, already abnormally classic. Aside from the 
petrified sentinels left standing adown the centuries, 
there is ample evidence of what Plutus w^as hammer- 
ing at hereabout. Left, after laying the Sierra foun- 
dation, were the dead volcanoes which we see, and 
their trachyte spurs flanking dark green forests, all 
intermingled with lavender and buff lava beds and 
scoriae; blistered ashen slopes, whose vegetation is 
stunted and ill-tempered, and fire-riven hills of purple 
rock, loose and crumbling, to which cling blasted 
pines and wind-smitten oaks. Over many of her 
deformities nature spreads a seemly covering, hid- 
ing what were otherwise the bare bones of an un- 


sightly skeleton. Many of these foundation-hills, and 
particularly the little valleys between them were fin- 
ished in her happiest mood. Many of these cinders 
of spent forces have been well fleshed with soil, well 
watered, made fragrant with gums and odorous plants, 
and toned in healthy glistening green. 

But it is down into the valleys that you must go, 
into the valleys of the Coast Range, and that too be- 
fore man has mutilated everything, if you would see 
what nature has done for this strip of seaboard. There 
are natural meadows arabesque with tawny wald-oats, 
blossoming pea, and golden mustard, interspersed 
with indigenous vineyards, and fruit-bearing thickets. 
There are flower-gardens laid out in patterns by the 
deft fingers of nature, stars and crowns and chaplets 
of yellow, purple, white, and red. Scattered over 
broad park-like plains, and rising from tall wavy grass 
are oaks of various forms and species, some high with 
broad branches, and many scraggy and storm-bent. 
Here and there trees cluster in groves, and clumps of 
under-growth gather round to keep them company. 
Rising from the broad plain are solitary buttes, with 
cloud-entangling crests, sharp and high; and all 
around the borders blufl" promontories, and tongues of 
uplifted land timbered with beech and birch, ash, 
myrtle, and laurel, shoot out into the valley, some- 
times sudsiding in small round hills covered wnth 
tulips, wild onions, hemp, flax, and prickly chaparral. 
Now bring down through rocky canons the clear 
dancing water; lead it round in winding courses 
where it will best moisten the surface, broadening it 
occasionally into lakes, locking it in lagoons, or leav- 
ing it in sluggish sloughs; then go out while the 
morning is fresh and gray, just as the sun begins to 
pour a sensuous warmth into the air, to refine the 
mists and give lustre to the foliage, and to set life 
glowing under a blue and purple haze, and if the eyes 
shine not with gladness, and the breast swells not 


with gratitude, then the heart is hard indeed, and 
the breast but Httle better than a flhit. 

You say that such a region should teem with ani- 
mal life, and so it does. You can see there pelicans 
and sea-gulls fishing together in the bays; seals and 
sea-lions barking on the islands; wild fowl thickly 
clustered on lake and tule-marsh ; fish darting amid the 
waters; and beasts of many several sorts roaming the 
forests. On the tangled hillside is heard the soft 
note of the curlew ; you may listen also to the rust- 
ling of the pheasant, the chirrup of the blackbird, 
the whistling of the partridge, and the sweet songs of 
the robin and the lark. And they all rest content ; 
they are not driven by intense heat or cold to 
long migrations, their little journeys between valley 
and mountain being scarcely more than an afternoon's 
ramble. Nor need they take much thought for the 
morrow; even the prudent bee often leaves neglected 
the honey-bearing flower, and fails to lay in a winter's 
store. To elk and antelope, deer and bear, hill and 
plain are one, and that whether scorched by summer's 
sun or freshened by winter's rain. Bounteous nature 
plants the fields, brings forth the tender verdure, 
cures the grass, and stores the acorns. Little of 
frozen winter is here, little of damp, malarious sum- 
mer ; cool invig^orating^ nicrhts succeed the warmest 
days. Ice and snow banished hence sit cold and stolid 
on distant peaks, whence are reflected the impotent 
rays of the sun. 

Where then is winter ? November drops its gentle 
rain upon the sun-burned ground, closing the weather- 
cracks, freshening the Lydian air, and carpeting the 
late gray hills and vales in green; and this is winter. 
Spring comes warm and wanton, and nature is clad in 
holiday garb. Summer, dry and elastic, and trem- 
bling in amethystine light, is fragrant with the odor 
of dried grass, cypress, wild bay, and juniper. The 
heat of summer is seldom enervating, and the thick 
suJlen fogs that creep in from the ocean are not 


unhealthy. The chmate of CaUfornia is reHable; 
though her women may be fickle, her winds are not. 
Rain she sends at rain-time, and this having passed 
prayers are of no avail. 

Thus along the centuries seasons come and go, while 
over all diurnally sweeps the half-tropic sun. In the 
broad arch float flocks of light clouds, or spread out in 
long fleecy folds between which at night silently sails 
the melancholy moon. From the sparkling white on 
alpine domes the gray and golden sunlight smiles 
across the amphitheatre, enfolds the lustrous clouds 
which send shadows crawllncr along^ the mountain- 
side and over the plains, nods with its earliest rays to 
sleepy ocean, dances back from sea to snow-peak; 
then, palpitating in purple, it rises from violet-banks 
and grizzly hills, and mingles with the russet haze of 
the horizon, or creeps in tenderer tones through 
evanescent mists into deep canons and murky ravines, 
and glows warm and tremulous over the sombre 
shades below. 

Before descending to the more practical affairs of 
life in this region, I might point you out some of the 
so-called wonders of the arena-rim ; though I may 
say to 3^ou that long since I arrived at the conclusion 
that there is in heaven or earth no one thing more 
wonderful than another. With whatsoever we are un- 
familiar, that to us is wonderful when seen ; wonder 
is but the exclamation of ignorance. 

Yonder at the northern end, lonely and white, 
stands Mount Shasta, girdled by lesser volcanic peaks 
that look like pigmies beside the monarch of the north 
which lifts its front so proudly above the solemn forest- 
sea that beats in mournful monotones upon its base. 
To one not cradled amid such sisjhts its awful o^randeur 
beside our puny life is crushing. Standing in the clear 
atmosphere, unrivalled and apart, like Orion it catches 
from over the eastern ridge the first rays of morning, 
and flashes them far down the vista; while at evening 


its frosty diadem gleams with the glances of the 
departing sun long after the shades of night have 
overspread the surrounding hills. 

Before us at the portal two sentinels, Helena and 
Diablo, guard either side, with Tamalpais picketed 
near the entrance ; while far to the south, over the 
Tulare lakes and meadows, from the cold starlit ether 
or glowing in the roseate hues of day, the tall obelisks 
and stately domes and bristling minarets of mounts 
Brewer, Whitney, and Tyndall look down in grave 
guardianship. Proud immutability ! Yet whether 
dripping with slimy sea-beds, or being graven by 
glaciers, or smoothed into forms of comeliness by 
tempest, these mighty ministers to needful lowlands 
do nevertheless slowly crumble in decay, and with 
their dust feed forest and flower. So man is laid low, 
and mind. 

A little to our left, and almost hidden by granite- 
waves and conoidal domes that rise out of broad fir- 
planted snow-fields, yawns the plateau-rent of Yo Sem- 
ite. It lies in the Sierra foothills, nearly at right 
angles to their trend, and consists of a trough-like 
erosion, or sink, about a mile in perpendicular depth, 
six miles in length, with a flat bottom from half a 
mile to a mile in irregular width. Angles and square 
recesses press into walls of light gray granite, bril- 
liantly white under the reflection of the sun's rays, 
in places reddened by moss, fantastically carved, or 
stained with vertical parallel stripes of brown and 
black. Over these smooth white walls the Merced 
and its tributaries leap in wavy silver threads, and 
dashing in dusty foam upon the chasm floor, intone 
eternal hallelujahs. Any one of the scores of domes, 
and peaks, and perpendicular channels, and lichen- 
covered precipices that here present themselves taken 
apart constitutes of itself a study. 

Climbing up the outer side of the basin, and emer- 
ging from the level forest that covers the thick flat 
rim and veils the approach to the chasm, the tourist 


of later times sharply reins in his steed — if so be 
that the jaded cay use requires it — dismounts, and 
stands on Inspiration point, a rocky eminence com- 
manding a partial view of the valley. Here every 
one who writes a book stands spell-bound as if in the 
presence of the almighty, beholds a new heaven and 
a new earth, feels the omnipotence and majesty of 
the infinite, attempts in vain to give his vision utter- 
ance, indulges in a sublime fit of rhapsody, and then 
drops into mesmeric silence. Old life and ordinary 
emotions are suspended, and a new tide of feeling 
rushes in upon the soul. The mortal part of man 
shrinks back, and the immortal prostrates the beholder 
before this apparition of majesty and desolation. 

Entering at the lower end by the Mariposa trail, a 
general view of the valley is obtained, which displays 
first, on the left, the granite-block El Capitan, a 
smooth seamless battlement, rising clearly cut 3,300 
feet in height ; and on the right the Bridal Veil fall, 
a white cascade of fluttering gossamer, leaping from 
the western edge of Cathedral rock 630 feet, when 
striking the heaped-up debris at the base of the clifl*, 
it continues in a series of cascades 300 feet perpen- 
dicular to the bottom, where it flows off in ten or 
twelve streamlets. Summer dries the Virgin's Tears 
that fall opposite the Bridal Veil, for their source is 
not the eternal snow of the high sierra. When the 
stream that feeds the fall runs low, nearly all the 
water is dissipated by the wind, which first sways, 
then scatters it, and finally breaks it into quivering 
spray, which the tardy sun, when it appears, gilds 
with rainbows. 

Over the floor of the enclosure is spread a varie- 
gated carpet fit for a palace of the gods. Meadows of 
thick grass are interspersed with flowers and flowering 
shrubs, and fringed with thickets of manzanita, alder, 
maple, and laurel, and groves of oak, cedar, and fir, 
with occasional moss-covered rocks, marshes, and 
patches of sand; while high up on the battlement, 


clinging to crevice and shelving rock, are tall grace- 
ful ferns, with branches of the most delicate tracery, 
which from their dizzy height look like tiny shrubs. 
United with grandeur are sweet freshness and melody ; 
mino'lin<T with iris-hued mists is the frao-rance of 
flowers, and with the music of the waters the songs 
of birds. Receiving and giving rest to the troubled 
waters after their fearful leap is still the Merced 
i'iver, which winds through the valley in sharp angu- 
lar bends, striking first one side and then the other. 
It is some seventy feet in width, and as transpar- 
ent almost as air ; indeed, so deceivingl}^ limpid is 
it, that the unwary tourist who steps into it is soon 
beyond his depth. So too in regard to everything in 
and around this region of vastness ; dimensions are 
so stupendous that judgment is confounded ; the in- 
experienced eye cannot measure them. Distance is 
cheated of its eifect; until perhaps, one toils in vain 
all day to accomplish what appears to be no difficult 
task, when the mistake is discovered and the eye is 
strained no longer. 

Now and then a huge boulder, breaking from its 
long resting-place, comes crashing down the precipice, 
thundering in loud reverberations throughout the 
chasm. Sometimes in spring a flood bursts on 
Yosemite, when there is a tumult of waters, and 
high carnival is held in the valley. Scores of newly- 
born streams and streamlets fall from the upper end, 
and along the side roar a hundred cataracts whose 
united voices might waken Endymion. Pyramids of 
mist stand on the chasm floor, and ribbons of white 
waters twenty or thirty feet apart hang against 
black walls, or fall like comet's tails side by side, with 
jets shooting out from either side like arrows, weaving 
gauzy lace-work and forging fairy chains. 

In May and June the streams are flush, and the 
monotone of falling waters is broken by crash and 
boom like angry surf striking the shore ; but as au- 
tumn approaches, the roaring cataracts dwindle to 


mere threads, which are shattered to mist In their 
descent, or disappear entirely. Frost dispels a portion 
of the summer haze, and the air of winter is clear and 
cold. The granite walls glisten in a net- work of ice, 
and the frozen vapor whirls through the canon, smit- 
ing the cliffs, and overspreading the domes in layers 
of white, which, as they thicken, loosen their hold, 
slide off in huge masses, and striking upon the debris 
piles, break into powder, and fill the gorge to the brim 
with fine particles of frozen mist, which sparkle like 
diamond dust. 

Further upward in the valley, just beyond the 
Bridal Veil, is Cathedral rock, and still a little further, 
shooting up in graceful pinnacles. The Spires. Then 
on the left come the Three Brothers, called by the 
natives Pompompasus, or Leaping Frogs; and pro- 
jecting from the opposite side the obelisk-formed Sen- 
tinel rock, which rises from the river, like a watch-tower, 
over three thousand feet. Across the valley from 
Sentinel rock, and fed exclusively by melting snows, 
is the great Yosemite fall, the largest in the world, if 
heio'ht and volume both be considered, beintr fifteen 
times as high as Niagara, and most indescribably 
grand. Springing from the verge of the chasm, over a 
smoothly polished, perpendicular wall of fifteen hun- 
dred feet, and swaying in the wind like a scarf of lace, 
the water strikes upon a rough, inclined shelf, over 
which, ragged with foam, or spread out in transparent 
aprons, it rushes in a seiies of cascades equal to 625 
feet perpendicular to the verge, when, with a final 
plunge of 400 feet, this most magnificent of half-mile 
leaps is consummated. No small portion of the water 
which drops from the top, and which widens and 
scatters in its descent, is dashed into spray before 
reaching the bottom; yet enough is left, even in the 
dryest part of the season, to send a deep, hoarse roar 
reverberatinc/ throuo^h the canon. 

Two miles above the Yosemite fall, the valley splits 
into three canons, at the head of the middle one of 


which tumbles the Merced, here a fleecy mass- of foam. 
Down the canon to the left flows the Yenaofa, and 
down the one to the right the Illilouette. Here, at 
the upper end of the valley proper, where the river 
branches with the branching chasm, in the outer angle 
of Yenaga canon, we find the Washington Colunm, 
and the Royal Arches, and back of these the North 
Dome, a rounded mass of overlapping, concentric, 
granite plates. On the opposite side of Yenaga canon 
are the Half Dome and Cloud's Rest, and in the canon. 
Mirror lake. 

Ascendinoj the Merced throug^h the middle canon, 
besides two miles of cascades in which the river de- 
scends over two thousand feet, we find two magnificent 
falls, surrounded by the grandest scenery, — Vernal 
fall, which makes up in volume and impressive beauty 
what it lacks in height, and the Nevada fall, with the 
Cap of Liberty near it. The Illilouette branch of the 
Merced also has a beautiful fall. 

Thus, amid sentinels of granite, and mighty battle- 
ments, and musical cascades, and roaring cataracts, 
with its verdure-clad floor, and its time-worn walls 
curtained in glistening gossamer, cold in its colors 
though they be of dazzling brightness, wrapped in 
veils of silvery mist round which in drapery of pris- 
matic hues Iris dances, or illuminated with airy 
clouds of frozen spray, Yosemite sits enthroned. 
Above and beyond, cold, silent, and white, stretches 
the great range on whose summit lies the snow that, 
melting, tunes the viols of a hundred cataracts. A 
fitting play-ground for the state, truly! A wonder 
worthy of California! Travel the world over and you 
will find no counterpart; there is no wonder like our 
wonder. Even a Yosemite rivulet may boast its 
sheer half-mile of precipice. All here is grand and 
unique ; all of characteristic bigness except water, but 
Californians were never specially partial to water! 

I say Yosemite has no counterpart — I should rather 


say outside of California. Here we have others, so 
that if the great chasm of chasms should ever be lost 
to us, we still should not be without our wonder. 
There is the Little Yosemite valley above the Nevada 
fall, with its concentric granite structures, and the 
same river flow hi g through it in beautiful cascades; 
and there is the Hetch-hetchy valley, which, if a little 
less grand than the Yosemite, would answer well 
enough in place of it. The Hetch-hetchy chasm walls 
the Tuolumne river about sixteen miles north-west 
from Yosemite. It is three miles in length, from an 
eighth to half a mile in width, with walls not quite so 
high as those of the Yosemite, though the volume of 
water flowing into it is much greater. It extends in 
the same direction as Yosemite, has a perpendicular 
blufl" — the counterpart of El Capitan, a large stream 
fed by the melting snows which fall over a cliff" 1,000 
feet in height; has in the Hetch-hetchy fall, 1700 
feet in height, the counterpart of the Yosemite fall, 
with its Cathedral rock, 2,270 feet in height ; finally, 
at its upper end, it splits into two canons instead of 
three as at Yosemite. All along the base of the 
Sierra, and mounting upward to its summit, are innu- 
merable valleys, meadows and springs, lakes, water- 
falls, and cascades, eroded canons, polished domes, and 
volcanic spindles, finger posts of the early gold-seekers, 
obelisk groups, table mountains, kettles, chests, forts, 
caves, bridges, sugar-loaves, cathedral-peaks, and uni- 
corn peaks ; the which, if they should be described 
every one, I suppose that even the world itself could 
not contain the books that would be written. Many 
mighty chasms we have on this Pacific slope beside 
the Yosemite canon of the Merced, and the Hetch- 
hetchy canon of the Tuolumne. There is the Amer- 
ican river with its north and south forks down two or 
three thousand feet in hard slate. The Columbia and 
the Fraser rivers have their fifty miles and more of 
gorges several thousand feet deep ; and grander yet, 
the King river canon, with its hard granite walls 


from three to seven thousand feet deep. Then, grand- 
est of all is the grand canon of the Colorado, 300 
miles long, and from 3,000 to 6,200 feet in depth, also 
the result of erosion. 

Tliere are likewise many other noted wonders in 
California, as Bower cave near by, with its cleft, per- 
pendicular chamber walls and subterranean lake, dell, 
grotto, and grove ; the Alabaster stalactite cave of El 
Dorado on our right ; the Calaveras cave of skulls in 
which, when discovered, were found human skeletons 
coated with carbonate of lime; the Santa Cruz cave, 
and numerous natural bridges. Bower cave, situated 
in Mariposa county, consists of a crevice in the lime- 
stone hollowed out by water; hence it is open at the 
top but widens out cave-like beneath the surface. It 
is 133 feet long, 109 feet deep, and 80 feet wide. 
Three maple trees grow within it, sending their 
branches out through the split roof, and the water on 
the bottom is so transparent, that the deep cavities 
which are worn on either side above and below, may 
be distinctly followed beneath the surface to a depth 
of forty feet. Alabaster cave, in Placer county near 
Auburn, is a large cavity, discovered by lime-burners 
while quarrying. There are two chambers, one 100 
by 200 feet, and the other 25 by 100 feet, and from 
4 to 20 feet in depth. Brilliant stalactites of various 
shades and shapes hang in irregular rows, interspersed 
with spaces stained with a sort of grotesque graining. 
One of the chambers, called the Crystal Chapel, looks 
like an embowered arctic region petrified. Over a 
branch of the Trinity river nature has thrown a ledge 
of rocks 300 feet wide and 150 feet thick, under which 
runs the stream through an arch 80 feet wide and 20 
feet high. Among others, Coyote creek, in Tuolumne 
county, is spanned by two natural bridges. 

To these scenes of grandeur and beauty vegetation 
contributes its quota. Among twenty clusters of 
mammoth trees, there are eight principal groves, of 


which the Mariposa and Calaveras are chief. The euca- 
lyptus of Australia is a taller tree than the sequoia 
gigantea of California — Wellingtonea gigantea these 
trees were once called ; but this could not be tolerated 
in a land where is celebrated the 4th of July, and so 
the name was changed to Washingtonea ; but lately, 
arborists say simpl}^ sequoia gigantea. Taking height, 
bulk, and numbers together, if not the tallest and old- 
est, we have here the grandest groups of forest trees 
upon this planet. 

The Mariposa grove, which, with the Yosemite 
valley was given by congress to the state of California 
for public use and recreation, is situated thirty miles 
from Yosemite, and contains, scattered among smaller 
trees, over 200 which are more than twelve feet in 
diameter. Sixty of them, measured six feet from the 
ground, have diameters of from 27 to Q7 feet, and in 
height are from 187 to 270 feet. The Grizzly Giant 
measures on the surface 93 feet in circumference. 
Through the hollow of a prostrate trunk, two horse- 
men ride abreast for a distance of 100 feet. One 
hundred feet above the ground, a trunk which is there 
twenty feet in diameter, puts out a branch six feet in 
thickness. The trees are straight, with gracefully 
tapering trunks, fluted bark of a light cinnamon color, 
and small coniform tops. In the Calaveras grove 
there are about 100 trees of the larger sort, thirty of 
which measure from 230 to 235 feet in height, and 
from 30 to 45 feet in circumference six feet from 
the ground. Five men occupied twenty-two days in 
felling one of them, which was accomplished by bor- 
ing^ through the trunk with pump-augers. After it 
was completely severed, wedges had to be driven in 
"on one side to overturn it. This tree is estimated to 
have been 1,300 years old; its bark was a foot and a 
half thick, and upon its stump, which six feet from 
the ground has a diameter of twenty-seven feet, after 
squaring and smoothing it, was erected a pavilion for 
dancing and pleasure parties. 


We will now turn to quite a different scene 
Round St. Helena, once a bellowing crater, and the 
chimney of infernal furnace-fires, the earth's crust 
softens, steams with internal heat, and appears with 
its comliness marred so as to expose the mysteries of 
unadorned earth ; for terraqueous nature, as well as 
human nature, has its unseemly side, its infirmities, 
and sinks of corruption. On one side of St. Helena 
are the steaming sulphuric springs and boiling mud of 
Calistoga, and on the other that pit of Acheron, the 
Geysers. Surely the balance of power must be pre- 
served, the heaven of California must have its hell; 
aye, let nature boast her abnormities, nor be outdone 
by that hungry human horde which rushed in hither 
and lined the streets of every mining camp with scores 
of hells. 

Three miles away one hears the puff and roar as of 
ocean steamers, and sees the ascending smoke and 
steam. In the approach there is no Point of Inspira- 
tion; but Hog's Backs, and steep, angular glades, 
down which Jehu drives with such headlong speed as 
makes the timid passenger to shiver, and prepares the 
tourist for the enjoyment Plutonic pleasures. To 
one gazing from the mountain brow upon this 
monstrosity of nature, God is not in all his thoughts, 
but Satan and his hissing emissaries ; here is no 
new heaven and earth, but a nether realm, with sty- 
gian odors that offend the nostrils. 

He who first discovered the beauties of Yosemite 
was struck speechless as at the portal of paradise. 
The hunter Elliott, who in 1847 chased a bear into 
the valley of the Pluton, spying the Devil's canon 
turned and fled, and on reaching his companions ex- 
claimed : '' Boys ! I have found hell I " 

Around the cool deep crystal waters of Clear Lake 
are numerous soda springs, sulphur banks, and borax 
deposits. Down the western slope of the western ridge 
that bounds this region, in the heart of a tangled forest 
once well stocked with game, flows the Pluton river, a 


merry tumbling stream from twenty to thirty feet in 
in width, formerly almost alive with trout, and shaded 
by the foliage of overhanging vines and branches. At 
right angles to the Pluton canon, from its northern side, 
is a gorge about half a mile in length, and but a few rocs 
in unequal width, with steep walls rising from 50 to 150 
feet. This little off-shoot is called the Devil's canon. 
From its entrance at the Pluton canon its uneven 
surface rises, and at the upper end it divides in two, 
and mingles with the hills. A little creek with minia- 
ture falls and cascades runs through it, whose waters 
at their source are pure and cold, but which as they 
descend soon become contaminated by their surround- 
ings. Sometimes a partial footpath winds by the 
stream, between the rocks and mobile earth, but often 
it is undermined or swept away. The entrance is but 
a narrow rocky pass, roofed by fallen, but yet grow- 
ing trees, adorned with fantastic roots, and partially 
covered with debris and creeping plants. This en- 
trance is called Proserpine's Grotto, and beyond it 
the canon widens a little. 

The scene within is barren and ghastly. Bottom 
and sides are skinned of every sign of vegetation, 
and scoriated with sulphur, salts, and slimy deposits. 
Around the upper portion of the sides, the earth 
assumes a reddish hue, below which it is marbled 
with the ghastly colors of festering flesh, patches of 
pale ashen and white, patches of green and slaty stain, 
yellow sulphur snow and black sulphur root, with all 
the intermediate shades of death and dissolution. 
Hot springs burst forth from hot ground, spitting, 
sputtering, hissing, and panting in unmanageable 
wrath. Through whistling steam and sickening sul- 
phur, yawn horrible mouths like the gates of Aver- 
nus. It is as utterly infernal a place as can well be 
imagined, lurid and murky, and sickening with heavy 
vapor. In every hole and corner this model Pande- 
monium seems inhabited by shadowy fiends, and 
every fiend to be doing his best to render his little 

Cal. Int. Poc. 2 


crevice the particular hell of the place. On the 
bottom and along the sides are two hundred grinning 
mouths spurting liquids of every hue. Into this 
sewer of desolation and dire combustion, midst hissing 
vapor and the stench of decomposing drugs, vomit 
white blue and black sulphur springs, boiling alum, 
epsom salts, and magnesia springs; iron and soda 
springs; conglomerate and nondescript medicated 
mixtures, until the little rivulet, nauseated by the 
vile compound, turns wheyish in color, emits a faint 
gurgle, tosses feverishly on its rocky bed, and then 
slinks along its slimy way. Round stinking pools 
that fill the air with their fetid breath, are incrusta- 
tions of iron, tartaric acid, copperas, and verdigris. 
The clammy ground, crispy with sulphuric crystals, 
rough with scoriae, quakes and sends forth noxious 
gases. Waves of sulphuric seas thump against the 
tliin crust of the seemingly hollow earth ; jets of 
liquid black leap hissing from blue-vitriol mud, and a 
cavernous roar echoes through the pitchy glen. 
Nature, sick with sore boils, eaten by acids, palsied 
and jaundiced, is smothered with alopathic abomina- 

Pass Proserpine's Grotto and ascend the canon. 
Pick your way carefully and plant your feet in the 
footprints of the guide, else your legs may suffer for 
the neglect. First there is an Iron and Alum spring, 
with a temperature of 97° Fahrenheit ; then the 
Medicated Geyser bath, containing iron, sulphur, 
epsom salts and magnesia; Eye Water spring, om- 
nipotent against ophthalmia ; and in the order men- 
tioned Boiling Alum and sulphur spring, Black Sul- 
phur spring, Epsom Salts spring, Boiling Black 
sulphur spring. The largest spring is the Witches' 
Cauldron, situated two-thirds of the distance up the 
canon, and the loudest the Steamboat Spring at the 
head of the canon. The Witches' Cauldron is a hole 
or sink six or seven feet in diameter, of unknown 
depth, and with a temperature of 292° Fahrenheit. 


Seething and swashing like a troublous witches broth 
stirred by subterranean imps, with no visible outlet, 
its thick black liquid bubbling sometimes to a height 
of three or four feet, the bank near by begrimed like 
a chimney-back and just above blooming with beauti- 
ful sulphur crystals, Dante himself could not conceive 
a more perfect stygian pool. This black vapory pit 
has been called also the Devil's Punch Bowl. It is 
an insult to his Majest}^ who knows full well how to 
brew good punch. 

Every spring has its voice, its own peculiar strain ; 
its busy babble, or surly grumble, or hollow moan, or 
impotent sputter, or testy hiss, or angry roar, or 
wild shriek, its vain spoutings or gleesome gurgle, 
and tliroughout the ages the infernal choir ceases not 
to deliver its united and discordant strains. But loud 
above all voices and high above all sounds are the 
puffings and roaring pulsations of the Steamboat 
Geyser, which sends from the hillside in several fitful 
volumes, through orifices from an inch to a foot in 
diameter, columns of hot vapor to heights of from 
50 to 200 feet. The sounds of which the name is 
expressive, are like those proceeding from the escape 
pipe of an engine. The roar is continuous, though 
broken by puffs and louder bursts, while all around 
from tiny holes in the spongy ground jets of hot 
steam shoot upward, with a force and fury significant 
of the contending elements beneath the surface. 
Then there is the Intermittent Geyser, which belches 
boiling water spasmodically, sometimes fifteen feet 
and again only three or four feet; the Devil's Ink- 
stand, which emits through a small aperture a black 
liquid that may be used for writing, and whose stain 
is indelible ; the Devil's Grist-mill with its sputtering 
clatter ; the Devil's Kitchen, the Devil's Bake-oven, the 
Devil's Wash-tub, the Devil's Tea-kettle, the Devil's 
Pulpit, and the devil knows what else. All along 
the banks of this Lethe stream, as you climb, fainting 
with the heat and smells, between slippery rocks and 


over the seething uncertain ground, your blistering 
feet perhaps ankle deep in mineral deposits, and lift- 
ing themselves spasmodically from the heated earth, 
you may see pools of slaty swash exhaling a dock- 
mud stench, steam whizzing through fissures, and 
black compounds belching from slag and clinker- 
rimmed holes ; at which strange doings Helena groans 
afresh, and fallen forest trees ten miles distant shudder 
and turn to stone. 

Here, as everywhere in dealing with the unknown, 
men speculate upon the causes of these phenomena, 
some holding that they are produced by volcanic action, 
others by purely chemical forces. Side by side, only a 
few inches apart, are hot springs and cold springs, boil- 
ing springs and springs whose waters are undisturbed. 
An iron pipe terminating in a whistle inserted in one 
of these steam orifices, sends forth a shrill shriek. 
On the Pluton is the Indian spring, whither the na- 
tives, who feared to enter the Devil's canon, have re- 
sorted from time immemorial to bathe in its healing 
waters. There they erected a sweating-house, and 
thither they carried their sick. Near the hot black 
sulphur bath, which they have made, flows a stream 
of clear cold water, into which, after their fashion, 
they plunge alternately. On one side of the Devil's 
canon is the Mountain of Fire, honey-combed with 
dead geysers, and stratified with sulphur, epsom salts, 
copperas, nitre, ammonia, tartaric acid, cinnabar, 
magnesia, and yellow ochre. Near by are the vent 
holes of a crater from which the steam whistles with 
great force. In early morning, before the overhang- 
ing vapors are dissipated by the rising sun, the gorge 
is filled with steam, which rolls ofif in huge banks be- 
fore the wind. Above and beyond the edges of this 
Tartarean pool, round which struggle pale sickly 
trees, in the valley of the Pluton, and sometimes ap- 
proaching coyishly to the very verge of the heated 
waters, mountains, hills, and ravines are overspread 
with a covering of fresh verdure and wild flowers. 


made all the more luxuriant and charming by the 
warmth of these infernal fires ; and to complete the 
picture, at sunrise a weird rainbow, refracted from 
sulphuric vapor, hovers in clear prismatic hues over 
the canon, and loses itself in the glistening emerald at 
either end. Turn then away, happy in the thought 
that nature inflicts on man few such insights into her 
sorceries, but rather veils in beauty the mysterious 
chemical processes of her laboratory. 

The great sink in the Coast Range, which lies before 
U3 near the border of the ocean, and into which the 
waters of the entire valley are drained, is another 
marvel of nature, though utilized and made common 
by man. But for the Golden Gate fissure or cleft, 
which abruptly cuts in two the continuous coast line, 
large areas in the interior would be perpetually under 
water. Were the channel through this bluff-bound 
gateway less deep, so that the ocean's ebb and flow 
should not be felt within, San Francisco bay would 
be a lake. But better far as it is, a lake-like and well- 
nigh land-locked harbor, larger than Rio de Janeiro, 
and fairer than Naples; with all the glowing haze 
and delicious sweetness of the famous Neapolitan air, 
but without its subtle softness and enervating 

Mount some warm misty morning to the top of 
Yerba Buena island, which stands midway between 
the cove to which it gave its name and Oakland 
point, and the prospect thence will scarcely fail to 
kindle the eye, to swell the heart, and awaken long- 
ings for other scenes. From this island's base spreads 
out a mimic ocean, shaped like an arrow-point, sixty 
miles in length by four or five in width, whose radiant 
waters fling back the rays of the morning sun, or 
ripple under the influence of wind and tide, and from 
whose borders, wavy hills roll up, smooth and round 
as the bust of Canova's Venus, or dimpled like a 
merry school-girl's face. These, interspersed with gen- 


tier slopes, and radiating valleys and ridges, and minia- 
ture plains, through which thread numerous stream- 
lets, were not long since the home of the prowling 
panther and marauding coyote, of wild-cat, bear, and 
deer. Myriads of wild-fowl and sea-birds fished in 
these waters, and quarreled, filling the air with their 
shrill cries; while within the bay and without the por- 
tal, and for 3000 miles along the shore, were seal-rocks, 
with crawling monsters barking, enjoying their siesta, 
or holding conference like sinful souls in purgatory. 

Northward there is a maze of undulating elevations, 
domes ridges and peaks, their outline toward the 
ocean delicately penciled against the sky, and further 
inland in the distance is a background of nebulous 
mountains, the landscape lighted in places by unseen 
waters J and all painted in soft aerial colors of varied 
depth and tone. Toward the south the ridges on 
either side recede; the water broadens at first, then 
narrowing, melts away in hazy perspective. Beyond 
is the great sea, smiling in azure or fretting in impa- 
tient o^reen and white, with its silence-breathing: surf 
singing ocean lullabies to the sleepy hills, or rolling in 
from the horizon huge waves, which, dashing them- 
selves against their shore-limits, fall back foaming at 
their own impotency. 

Thus sculptured in the heart of the Coast Range, 
some parts of the bay are narrow and deep like a 
highland loch, with bluffs and promontories ; in other 
parts the water spreads out, and encircles large islands, 
■ — Angel, Alcatraz, and Yerba Buena, — or washes a 
diminutive beach. Its seaward shore is splintered 
into points and estuaries; on the opposite side are 
coves and graceful crescents ; while round the northern 
end, where empties the Sacramento, are bays carved 
within bays, straits and deep- flowing channels, and 
sentinel islands and embankments. 

The northern side of the Golden Gate is a steep, 
dark, reddish wall, six or eig^ht hundred feet in height. 
From the top of this wall the hills mount and roll off 


in warm yellowish-green surges round Tamalpais, 
deepening into purple as they rise in graceful alpine 
outline and mingle with the clouds. Opposite this 
bank the waters of the bay and ocean are separated 
by a ridge of argillaceous sandstone, severed at the 
Golden Gate so as to form a peninsula some six miles 
at the northern end, and broadening into open high- 
lands toward the south. Upon these so lately sand- 
blown hills, freckled with tough, wind-defying 
shrubbery, beneath whose branches quail and rabbits 
loved to hide, and birds and rivulets sang together, is 
now being planted the commercial metropolis of the 
Farthest West; while all around this favored bay, 
blustering in its strength and radiant in its beauty, 
and already white with the sails of every ocean, in- 
dustries are springing up, towns and cities are being 
built, and a race of men and women developing which 
some day will make the nations marvel. The bay of 
Kieselarke has been called golden because of its shin- 
ing sands; but far more proper may our beautiful 
sheet which from the first so gladdened the hearts of 
the followers of St Francis rejoice in that name, for 
not only are its shores golden, but its hills and skies, 
its commerce and its industries, its towns and people 
are golden. 

Fair California I clad in verdant spring vesture or 
resting in arid robes under a metallic sky ; voluptuous 
in thy half-tropic bed, in thy sunlit valley warmed 
with the glow of bronze and rosy lustre, redolent with 
wild flowers, and billowy with undulating parks and 
smooth corrugated mounds and swelling heights, with 
waving grass and fragrance-breathing forests, capti- 
vating the mhid, and ravishing the senses with thy 
bewitching charms, and smiling plenty in alternate 
seasons of refreshing rains and restful dryness; with 
thy lofty snow-capped peaks, and metal-veined Sierra, 
and amethystine smooth-browed hills bathed in purple 
mists and musical with leaping streamlets and songs 


of birds; with thy corridors of sundered stone, and 
glacier valleys silvered with moonlit lakes, and cool 
refreshing basins filled with transparent blue; with 
thy boisterous alpine streams, and quiet lowland 
rivers, and sluggish waters wandering through char- 
rcterless sloughs; with thy scraggy scattering oaks, 
and tangled undergrowth, mirrored in crystalline pools, 
and flowering shrubs, and mighty sable forests; with 
thy sunlight soft and hazy, and air sea-scented and 
sparkling yet mellow, stimulating yet restful, and pure 
and sweet as that which blows from Araby the Blest, 
yet strong withal, wooing the sick and care-laden, 
cooling the vein-swollen brow, thrilling the blood with 
ocean's stimulants and giving new life, not stifling it ; 
with thy native men and beasts, and birds and fishes, 
and fields of native grain, all hitherto unmarred by 
man, all fresh as from the hand of the creator revel- 
ling in p/imeval joy and fragrance, while the valley 
murmurs its contentment, and the forest cypress nods 
its sable plume; crimson purple and violet in thy 
blushing beauty veiled in misty gauze that rises fresh 
and glisocning from the sun-beaten ocean, and fills the 
heavens thick with spray or whirls ofl* in eddying 
clouds round the mountain tops, breaking from mina- 
ret and spire into long streamlets edged by burnished 
sunlight ; voluptuous thus, or fierce in thy wild unrest, 
in thy lashed energies fiery as Achilles, whatever be 
thy mood or circumstance, thou art a song of nature 
ringing an ever changing melody, thou art the smile 
that lit Jehovah's face when he saw that it was good ! 


FORNIA.— 1537-1837. 

Thrusting, toiling, wailing, moiling, 

Frowning, preaching — such a riot! 
Each with never-ceasing labor. 
Whilst he thinks he cheats his neighbor, 

Cheating his own heart of quiet. 


In those days of unbridled adventure, when man 
was permitted to prey upon his fellow-man, and when 
the many-sided world was as yet but partially known 
to civilization, gold was the chiefest good that strange 
lands could yield, and hence every strange land, in 
the imagination or desire of its discoverer, abounded 
m gold. So it was that California, e^/en before it was 
seen by any Spaniard, was reputed, witliout reason, 
rich in gold. What stories Cabeza de Vaca liad to 
tell, when he arrived from the Mexican gulf at Culia- 
can, in 1537, of the vast wealth of this whole northern 
legion I As to the truth of the report, it must be 
true, for it was the people of the country who had 
informed him, thougjh in lanoruaore that he did not 
understand, and of realms of which they knew noth- 
ing. From the very first a strong conviction possessed 
the minds of the conquerors of Mexico that the west- 
ern coast, particularly toward the north, was rich in 
gold and pearls; and so all through the century suc- 
■ cessive expeditions were sent to the gulf of California, 
and to the peninsula. 

That most reverend and truthful man, Francis 
Fletcher, preacher to the pirate Drake, who, because 
God commanded Adam to subdue the earth, felt it 



his duty, as minister of God and son of Adam, to go 
abroad on this earth, and kill and steal to the full 
limit of his capabilities; and who felt it likewise his 
duty "to register the true and whole history of that 
his voyage, with as great indifferency of aflection as a 
history doth require, and with the plain evidence of 
truth," — this right rare and thrice worthy gentleman, 
as he would say of his captain, saw strange things in 
California ; that is to say, things strange to those who 
know California, but credible enough three hundred 
years ago to those who were never nearer to the spot 
than its antipode. In July of 1579, the pirate, as his 
preacher says, was met by peculiar and nipping colds. 
The natives, he affirms, "vsed to come shivering to 
vs in their warme furres, crowding close together, 
body to body, to receiue heate one of another." Oh I 
"how vnhandsome and deformed appeared the face of 
the earth it selfe ! " Birds dared not leave their nests 
after the first egg was laid until all were hatched; 
but nature had favored these poor fowl, so that they 
might not die in the operation. The causes of these 
phenomena he next explains on scientific principles. 
Because Asia and America are here so near together, 
and by reason of the high mountains and the like, 
"hence comes the generall squalidnesse and barren- 
nesse of the countrie; hence comes it that, in the 
middest of their summer the snow hardly departeth 
euen from their very doores, but is neuer taken away 
from their hils at all ; hence come those thicke mists 
and most stinking fogges." Inland the country was 
better. " Infinite was the company of very large and 
fat Deere, which there we sawe by thousands . . . 
besides a multitude of a strange kind of Conies . . . 
his tayle like the tayle of a Bat." The savages were 
exceedingly edified by the words of the preacher, by 
his psalm-singing, and his reading of the scriptures ; 
so much so, that when the gentle pirates took their 
leave, "with sighes and sorrowings, with heauy hearts 
and grieued minds, they powred out wofull complaints 


and moanes, with bitter teares and wringing of their 
hands, tormenting themselues." This was exceedingly 
Hke the California Digger, as was also their king, 
before whom on his appearing, ''came a man of a large 
body and goodly aspect, bearing the Septer or royall 
mace, . . . whereupon hanged two crownes, a bigger 
and a lesse, with three chaines of a maruellous length," 
and so on. It was with difficulty that the English- 
men prevented these people from worshipping them, 
and offering sacrifice as unto gods ; and the eagerness 
with which they accepted Elizabeth for their sovereign 
was pleasant to see. But about gold ? *' There is no 
part of eartli," says the preacher, "here to be taken 
up wherein there is not a reasonable quantity of gold 
or silver." And again: ''The earth of the country 
seemed to promise rich veins of gold and silver, some 
of the ore being constantly found on digging." Even 
a school-girl would recognize in this the extravagance 
of fiction. Climates change; simple savages might 
mistake Drake's buccaneers for gods ; but if crold and 
silver ever existed amid the rocks and hills in the 
neighborhood of Drake bay, the world has yet to 
know it. 

In his Noticia de la California, Miguel Yenegas, 
speaking of the voyage of Sebastian Vizcaino along 
the shore of Upper California in 1602, draws attention 
to the royal cedula of the 19th of August, 1606, 
granting Vizcaino permission to explore California, and 
inserts that document in the first volume of his his- 
tory. The king says, referring to Vizcaino's voyage 
of 1602, "que descubrio el dicho Sebastian Vizcaino 
en la costa en mas de ochocientas leguas, que anduvo, 
se in for mo, y que todos decian, haver la tierra adentro 
grandes poblaciones, y plata, y oro," — that the said 
Vizcaino was told by the Indians along the whole 
coast of 800 leagues which he discovered, of largre set- 
tlements in the interior, and of silver and gold. 
" Whence Vizcaino is inclined to believe," the king 
continues, "that great riches may be discovered, es- 


pecially as in some parts of the land veins of metals 
are to be seen;" — porque en algunas partes en la 
tierra firme descubrian betas de metales. Thus, there 
is little wonder that very early the rumor was abroad 
that there was gold in California, though without any 
fouDdation, as the interior had never yet been visited 
by white men. 

As far from the truth as the preacher's story and 
the king's story, is the statement passed from one 
writer to another without comment, that Loyola Ca- 
bello, a priest of the mission of San Jose, bay of San 
Francisco, on returning to Spain published, in 1690, 
a work on Alta California, in which the existence of 
gold in placers was mentioned. I do not know whom 
to hold responsible for starting this fiction, though one 
George M. Evans has been active in circulating it. 
Wo can only wonder that so many respectable persons 
have repeated it as fact. In the first place no such 
book was ever published. Secondly, in 1690, and for 
nearly a century thereafter, there was no San Jose 
mission on the Bay of San Francisco, though there 
was a San Jose del Cabo, near Cape St Lucas. Lastly, 
if there was such a man, and such a book, and such a 
place, there was no gold there. 

Fortunately for mankind, believing a thing, or fan- 
cying a belief in it, be it never so sincerely or strongly, 
does not make it true; nor is seeing always believing, 
when perforce, one must see through the eyes of sail- 
ors, whose statements are proverbially unreliable. 
''De Gualle saw many islands eastward of Japan in 
latitude 32° and 33°," says old Arthur Dobbs; and 
sailing further east, he saw many populous and rich 
islands, some with volcanoes, which abounded with 
gold, cotton, and fish . . . Gemelli mentions rocks seen 
in latitude 30°, and an island said to be rich in gold; 
and also another in latitude 32°, called Rica de 
Plata, which from their names and abounding in 
gold, may be supposed to be well inhabited." 
By how many have these gold bearing islands been 


since visited, and how much metal has been taken 
from them ? 

Perhaps twenty times the following passage in 
Shelvocke, A Voyage Round the World in 1719-22, by 
no means a rare or remarkable book, has been pointed 
out to me by men whose superficial investigations 
have led them to believe that gold was known to exist 
in California nearly two centuries ago. Here is the 
passage : ' ' The eastern coast of that part of California 
which I had a sight of, appears to be mountainous, 
barren and sandy, and very like some parts of Peru ; 
but nevertheless, the soil about Puerto Seguro, and 
very likely in most of the valleys, is a rich, black 
mould, which as you turn it fresh up to the sun ap- 
pears as if intermingled with gold dust, some of which 
we endeavored to wash and purify from the dirt; but 
though we were a little prejudiced against the 
thoughts that it could be possible that this metal 
should be so promiscuously and universally mingled 
with common earth, yet we endeavored to cleanse and 
wash the earth from some of it, and the more we did 
the more it appeared like gold ; but in order to be 
further satisfied, I brought away some of it which we 
lost in our confusions in China." 

Now in the first place this navigator — whose map 
by the way shows the two Californias together as an 
island — never was in Alta California at all ; and sec- 
ondly, he may or he may not have seen particles of 
something resembling gold at Cape St Lucas, the 
only point at which he touched. In a word, what- 
ever he saw or said has nothing whatever to do with 
the discovery of gold in the Sierra foothills. And 
yet I have seen printed in more than one Pacific 
coast newspaper this statement of Shelvocke's without 
any reference to the fact, and apparently without the 
knowledge of it, that the California referred to was 
not Upper California. 

At the time Shelvocke was engaged in his circjim- 
navigation, the Hudson's Bay Company was explor- 


ing to the westward. Almost as much as gold-pro- 
ducing mountams the world wanted inter-oceanic 
communication. From Patagonia, northward, nearly 
to the land's end, the seaboard had been searched in 
vain for a passage ; only the part between Hudson 
bay and the Pacific remaining yet unexplored. In 
1719 two vessels, the Albany Frigate, Captain George 
Barlow, and the Discovery, Captain David Vaughn, 
were fitted out for the purpose of examining the 
the western side of Hudson bay, and passing 
thence through the strait of Anian into the Pacific. 
This strait, the discover}^ of which was so eagerly de- 
sired, was believed to exist ; it was even laid down in 
charts, and there were some who said that they had 
seen it, others that they had entered it, though 
all the while it existed only in imagination. James 
Knight was given command of the expedition, and 
was ''with the first opportunity of wind and 
weather, to depart from Gravesend on his intended 
voyage, and by God's permission, to find out the 
strait of Anian, in order to discover gold and 
other valuable commodities to the north Avard." Mr 
Knight entered upon the task with enthusiam, though 
then eighty years of age, and " procured, and took 
with him some large iron-bound chests to hold gold- 
dust and other valuables, which he fondly flattered 
himself were to be found in those parts." Not hear- 
ing from the expedition, many conjectured, as Samuel 
Hearne remarks, 'Hhat Messrs Knight and Barlow 
had found that passage, and had gone through it into 
the South Sea by the way of California," and it was 
not known until fifty years later, when Heanie was 
undertaking his Coppermine river expedition, that 
they had not found the Anian strait, and had not 
filled their iron-bound chests with the gold of Califor- 
nia, but had all been lost in Hudson bay. 

The Shining Mountains — as the Sierra Nevada 
and Cascade Range were called by those who wrote 
geography a hundred years ago — were deemed from 


current reports something wonderful long before their 
treasures were disclosed. *' This extraordinary range 
of mountains," says Jonathan Carver in 1766, '*is cal- 
culated to be more than 3,000 miles in length, with- 
out any very considerable intervals, which I believe 
surpasses any thing of the kind in the other quarters 
of the globe. Probably in future ages they may be 
found to contain more riches in their bowels than 
those of Indostan and Malabar, or that are produced 
on the Golden coast of Guinea ; nor will I except 
even the Peruvian mines." 

No little excitement occurred in Mexico about the 
time of the expulsion of the Jesuits, who, it was re- 
ported, had found extensive deposits of gold on the 
peninsula of California, and had concealed the fact 
from the government. It was in the rivers, in the 
rocks, and in the soil, people said, and the supposed 
concealment as to the spot containing the precious 
metal, on the part of the Jesuits, tended in no wise 
toward delaying their enforced departure. To prove 
the matter Jose Galvez, marquis of Sonora, accom- 
panied by Miguel Jose de Azanza, in 1769 passed over 
into California and instituted a search. A few weeks 
of fruitless endeavor satisfied Azanza, who returned 
to Mexico, saying that the marquis was insane to 
continue the search ; for the expression of which 
opinion Azanza was incarcerated, and kept in prison 
for a time. Galvez found nothing, however, though 
the Jesuits afterward affirmed in France that it was 
true they had found gold. This was probably said in 
order to occasion regret in the minds of those who had 
caused their expulsion. All this of course is irrele- 
vant to the present purpose, except that in the loose 
and general reference made to the event, it is not 
stated, and often not known, that the Jesuits were 
never in Upper California, and that the search of 
Galvez and Azanzt was confined strictly to the penin- 
sula of Lower Cahfornia. 

Such facts, mutilated and misstated, floating* in the 


minds of ignorant persons who receive them at second 
or twentieth hand, lead to remarks hke the following 
by Mr Simpson, author of Three Weeks in the Gold 
Regions, ^whYmheA in 1848. *' It is also known that 
an expedition was fitted out by the governor of Sonora 
during the last century, which owing to various dis- 
couragements failed. 

In his Travels in Mexico, when near the mouth of 
the Colorado in 1826, Lieutenant Hardy says: *'The 
sand is full of a glittering sort of tinsel, which shines 
beautifully when the sun is upon it. It is common 
all over Sonora, and is, I imagine, nothing more than 
broken laminae of talc, the surface of which being 
probably in a state of decomposition, the original 
color is changed to that of copper and gold. It 
crumbles easily between the fingers, and cannot there- 
fore be metallic ; but its delusive appearance may pos- 
sibly have given rise to the reports, which were 
spread, as it is supposed, by the Jesuits, who formerly 
endeavored to make an establishment upon the river, 
of gold dust being intermixed with the sand." Fay- 
ette Robinson thinks the Jesuit priests were aware of 
the existence of gold in California, meaning Lower 
California, but carefully diverted the attention of the 
natives from it in favor of mission labor. Oslo in his 
manuscript Historia de California expresses the opinion 
that the Franciscans were too busy with conversions 
to ascertain whether the river sands held gold. The 
recent conjectures, he says, that they knew of gold 
are not probable, because the secret could not have 
been kept among so many. 

Since 1775 the Mexicans have met with silver in the 
vicinity of the Colorado, and some say with small de- 
posits of placer gold, but with none that would yield 
profitable returns. Very soon after the organization of 
the missions in Lower California, converted Indians sent 
into the upper country to persuade the natives there 
to listen to the teachings of the padres, talked, on 
their return, of the shining sand that they saw in 


the streams, and in the ravines which they had 
traversed. But so common were these reports, so 
familiar were the conquerors with the presence of 
precious metals everywhere within the subjugated 
domain, that a sprinkling more or less, here or there, 
was little regarded. Nevertheless, it is reported that 
later they built furnaces, and brought sand from the 
seashore to be used in smelting antimonial silver lead. 
A map was made of southern California in 1775 
by a priest showing the explorations of the Jesuits on 
the Colorado river for several hundred miles, and 
thence to the Tulare valley. J. H. Carson is the 
author of a little book, printed in Stockton in 1852, 
entitled Early Recollections of the Mines, and a Descrip- 
tion of the Great Tulare Valley , and worth fifty times 
its weight in gold. This writer was informed that in 
the Mexican archives was a letter from a priest, dated 
at one of the Jesuit missions in 1776, notifying the 
government that while searching the mountains for 
mission sites he and his confreres had met with pure 
silver in masses weighing several tons, and that they 
had forbidden all mention of the matter under pain 
of excommunication and death, lest a sudden iniiux 
of population should destroy their schemes for con- 
version. Upon the strength of this assertion Wright 
and his associates fitted out an expedition under a 
Mr Hoyt, who proceeding to California from Mexico, 
in due time sent back a letter with rich specimens of 
silver ore, almost solid, as Mr Wright declared. 
Neither Hoyt or any of the party returned, nor were 
they ever heard from ; and it was supposed that they 
were murdered by the natives. Exploring at a much 
later period in the vicinity of Moore creek, Carson 
encountered a shaft sunk apparently twelve or twenty 
3^ears before. Part of the windlass was still standing, 
though in a state of decay, and the place agreed with 
the description given by Hoyt. When Carson ques- 
tioned the natives about it, he was told that the shaft 
had been sunk by Mexicans who had been in that 

Cal. Int. Poc. 3 


neighborhood but who had since died ; the gentle 
savages failed to mention the manner of their taking 

Referring to the Diccionario Geografico-Historio de 
las Indias Occidentalcs o America of Antonio de Alcedo, 
published in Madrid in 1786-9, we find stated that in 
California, " provincia de la America Septentrional, y 
la ultima parte de ella en lo descubierto dcia el norte " are 
many wonders. Strange animals are there, and some 
that the Spaniards introduced, which have multiplied 
enormously. There are insects, snakes, tarantulas, 
and ants without number, but no fleas, bed-bugs, or 
chegoes. As prone to mendacity as I have ever found 
Mr Dunbar, I was not prepared to meet in his 
Romance of the Age so bold a misrepresentation as 
that Alcedo ** positively asserts the existence of gold in 
California, even in lumps of five to eight pounds," and 
that in face of the plain statement : "No se han des- 
cubierto minas; pero hay bastantes indicios de que 
existen de todos metales." 

At Alizal, near Monterey, silver is said to have 
been found in 1 802. Remarking how deep benea theth 
surface lay the precious metals in the interior of north- 
ern Mexico Humboldt, after his visit in 1803, ex- 
pressed the opinion that toward the north gold might 
be found in large quantities near the surface. 

Knowledge of the existence of furnaces, used in 
the smelting of silver ore, in the southeastern part of 
California, or in the Colorado river region, is vaguely 
traced back to 1808. An exploring party from Stock- 
ton in 1860, in search of silver lodes, met in the 
vicinity of these furnaces a party of Mexicans with 
like intentions. With the Mexicans was an ancient 
aboriginal, Jose el Venadero he was called, one hun- 
dred years of age, who stated that these furnaces were 
in use when Mexico first threw off the yoke of Spain, 
fifty-two years ago. He was a mission Indian at the 
time, and the Spanish soldiers stationed at the furnaces 
to protect the workmen from the natives were with- 


drawn during the revolution. A large body of natives, 
headed by his brother who was a chief, then attacked 
and killed the miners, and the priests who were with 
them ; since which time the lode has not been worked, 
and the place had been forgotten by all except those 
engaged in the massacre. M. S. Brockway saw there 
in 1851 veins of antimonial silver. 

Count Scala writing in the Nouvelles Annales des 
Voyages, in 1854, asserts that although local tradition 
has not preserved any souvenir of the excursions of 
the Russians into the auriferous regions which have 
since been of such value to California, yet there are 
unanswerable proofs that several officers of the Rus- 
sian company have at different times, between the 
years 1812 and 1841, procured a considerable quantity 
of metal from the native tribes of Yuba and Chico. 
** Nous montreros tout h I'heure," he goes on to say, 
*' que c'est aux Russes de Bodega que les Americains 
sont redevables de 1' heureuse decouverte qui leur 
donne aujourd' hui la faculte d'etendre leur souver- 
ainete dans la Nou\ elle-Grenade et le Nicaragua, et 
d'imposer leur influence a toutes les republiques es- 
pagnoles du Pacifique." In proof of his premise 
Scala's chain of argument is not in every link consis- 
tent with fact. I will give it for what it is worth. 
He does not know how it occurred, or what might 
have been the nature of the services which Sutter 
had rendered to the government of Archangel, but 
certain it is that one day the captain arrived in Cali- 
fornia well recommended to the authorities at Ross and 
Bodega. M. Gorieff, a rich merchant established at 
Yakoutsk, pretends to have shown him in 1838 or 
1839 a score of "kilos de lingots d'or et de pepites," 
which he had gathered five years before in the Sac- 
ramento valley, while on an excursion with the ciholeros 
of the company. And Gorieff counselled Sutter to 
devote himself exclusively to the investigation of these 
auriferous lands. However that might have been, 
Scala continues, ''no one then in California was igno- 


rant of the existence of gold in the Sierra Nevada 
districts. The Creoles had often bought it from the 
Indian hunters, and in the time of the Spaniards the 
missions had secretly procured it in large quantities. 
The only obstacles which for a century had hindered 
the working of these mines by white men were the 
well known ferocity of the wild Indians, and ignorance 
of the exact position of the placers. After having 
made several excursions in the country pointed out to 
him by M. GoriefT, Sutter went to the governor at 
Monterey and asked a grant of the lands. This 
grant, which comprised an area measuring eighty 
kilometres in length and sixteen in width, was 
traversed by the route from San Francisco to the 
American posts on the Columbia river. It was a 
virgin region, abounding in game, profusely watered, 
rich in pasturage, and surrounded by mild-mannered 
tribes. There Sutter established himself as trapper, 
hunter, and agriculturist. When in 1841 the Rus- 
sians evacuated Ross they sold to him their material, 
by which means he became strong enough success- 
fully to withstand the provincial government. Thus 
was due to the Russians, the conclusion is, the gold 
discovery in California, and her consequent greatness." 
Here ends Count Scala, whom I have translated 
accurately, if somewhat freely. 

It is possible, even probable, that the Russians of 
Ross and Bodega knew of the existence of gold in 
the Sierra foothills. They had every opportunity for 
acquiring such knowledge, being in frequent commu- 
nication with the inhabitants of that region; and 
there was no special inducement for them to notify 
the Mexicans of the fact. But as for Sutter being 
aware beforehand of the existence of gold in the 
vicinity of New Helvetia, I am sure that he was 
not; first, because he told me so, and secondly, be- 
cause, if he had known it his line of conduct would 
have been different. Further than this, it is not true 
that the Indios bravos were so fierce as successfully 


to guard their gold from the Russians. They were 
not fierce at all, but rather as Sutter found them 
*' aux moeurs douces et faciles.'' 

Holinski tells of a laborer, a servant of the Rus- 
sian American Company in California, who one day 
went to the commandant with the story that he had 
seen gold in the bed of a stream, and advised that a 
party be sent to examine it. The man was told to 
mind his own business. 

Add to the statement of Scala the testimony of 
Governor Alvarado, given in the first volume of his 
Historia de California^ and it is ahnost certain that the 
Russians of Ross and Bodega were aware of the ex- 
istence of gold in the valley of California as early as 
1814. During the administration of Governor Ar- 
gUello, Alvarado says that gold was found in the 
possession of a Russian, El Loco Alexis he was called. 
The man was in jail at Monterey at the time, impris- 
oned with three others, perhaps for drunkenness, or 
for killing beaver, or, more likely, for being Russians, 
Alexis would not tell how or where he obtained the 
gold, and as he was shortly afterward sent to Sitka, 
nothing came of it. Alvarado does not hesitate to 
assert further that "we well knew of the existence of 
gold deposits on the slopes of tlie northern mountains, 
but the Indians, who were so much more numerous 
than we, prevented our exploring in that direction." 

Because Phillips, in his Mineralogy, edition of 1818, 
spoke of gold in California, many thought he had 
knowledge of the existence of that metal in the Sierra 

In the possession of the San Francisco Society of 
Pioneers is a stone tablet, indicating the discovery of 
gold on Feather river in 1818. It was presented to 
the society by W. F. Stewart in 1868, and is held in 
great estimation by the wise men of the day. The 
stone is of hard, yellowish, sandy texture, about twelve 
inches in length by an average of three inches in width, 


and one inch thick. It is flat, and on one side are 
deeply cut, in legible letters, these words : 


L M 

This cabalistic stone is said to have been picked up 
on the west branch of Feather river, in 1850, by 
William Thomas, and given by him to A. J. Pithan, 
of San Jose, in 1851. Mr Thomas, after diligent 
search, was unable to find the gold cave. Discussions 
of possibilities or probabilities are wholly useless. The 
chances are a hundred to one, in my opinion, that 
some miner of 1849 cut the letters for pastime, and 
then threw the stone away, or gave it to some one to 
make a good story out of. 

And now comes Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo with 
similar testimony, that the Spaniards in California 
knew of gold, but could not profit by their knowledge 
on account of the Indians. In the first volume of his 
Historia de California he further states that, in 1824, 
while Captain Pablo de la Portilla was encamped at 
San Emilio, Lieutenant Antonio del Valle, who had 
a stock of beads, blankets, and tobacco, traded his 
goods with the Chauchilas and Jozimas for fourteen 
thousand dollars in gold, ''chispas de oro," emphasiz- 
ing his statement by the further assertion that " el 
teniente del valle trajo el oro ^ Monterey, y lo he 
tenido en mis manos ; y por eso respondo de la verdad 
del hecho." 

Jose de Jesus Pico, still living in San Luis Obispo, 
asserts that Father Martinez, the minister of the mis- 
sion of that name, gave him and three fellow-soldiers, 
in 1829, twenty ounces of gold in one ounce balls, and 
that he believes the father must have picked it up at 
the place named San Jose, near the mission. He 
suspected that several Spaniards were for a time 


secretly engaged at the mission in refining gold and 
silver, because the father had many flasks of quicksil- 
ver, as well as instruments and materials for refining 
those metals. 

Jedediah Smith is accredited with having found 
placer gold near Mono lake, on the way back from 
California, whither he had led a party from the Salt 
Lake country in 1825. Thomas Sprague, writing to 
Edmond Randolph, in 1860, states that he was well 
aware of the fact, and that the spot where the gold 
was found was on the route to Salt lake, and east by 
north from Mono lake. Quite a quantity of this gold, 
Smith brought back with him to the American Fur 
Company's encampment on Green river. His partners 
were so pleased with his success that they induced 
him to return to the gold field, in which attempt he 
lost his life. The defeat of the party by Indians dis- 
couraged the company, and they abandoned their 
search for gold. Mr Sprague's statement as to the 
route of Smith to and from California is only partially 

As further evidence that gold was believed to exist 
in California, may be mentioned certain laws and reg- 
ulations framed by the Mexican government. Refer- 
ring to the Vallejo Coleccion de Documentos, we find that 
on the 19th of July, 1828, President Guadalupe Vic- 
toria transmitted to the governor of California a decree 
of the Mexican congress equally applicable to all the 
Mexican states and territories. All previous decrees 
prohibiting the export of gold and silver bullion were 
revoked, and states were permitted to collect duties. 
Bars, quoits, and rails must be numbered and stamped 
with weight and fineness. Another decree, of the 
1 3th of September, lays down the rules for the expor- 
tation of gold and silver bullion. Permits might be 
obtained by presenting petition and invoices at the 
custom-house. Then the formalities prescribed for 
the authorities of the custom-house are given at great 
length, besides a number of stipulations and penalties. 


Upon the assertion of M. Duflot de Mofras mainly 
rests the discovery of gold at San Isidro, in San 
Diego county by a man from Guanajuato about 1828. 
*' A San Isidro," he says in the first volume of his Ex- 
ploration du Tcrritoire de V Oregon, des Calif orriies, et de 
la Mer Vermeilley Paris, 1844, '*h, quatorze lieues dans 
Test de San Diego, on trouve des mines d'or et d'ar- 
gent qui furent exploitees il y a quinze ans par un 
homme de Guanajuato." 

Padre Viader, a priest at Mission Santa Clara, is 
said to have possessed the gift of prophecy. Two 
years before it occurred, he foretold the drought of 
1829, and advised the people to prepare for it, and 
plant double the usual area. He likewise predicted 
the discovery of gold in California, and the transfer 
of that land to another nationality. This reminds 
one of the many signs and omens pointing to the fall 
of Monteruma, and the Mexican conquest, which oc- 
cured during the century precedhig that event. 

Another prophet, who died in 1830, was Padre 
Magin Catalil, of this same mission. Among other 
things he predicted that great riches would be found 
in the north, and that people would flock thither in 
great numbers. It is safe to affirm that among peo- 
ple of extraordinary piety no important event ever 
happens but that after the occurrence many persons 
can be found who said that it would be so. 

And now for the statement of a savage among 
others who testify. Puleule, a Yuba, swore, as soon 
as he had acquired that civilized accomplishment, that 
when he was a boy, say in 1830, he had often amused 
hhnself by picking from the gravel large pieces of 
gold and throwing them into the water. 

Manuel Victoria writing the Ministro de Relaciones 
says in 1831 that there are no mines of any value in 
California ; that the pagans know of none ; and that 
it is the opinion of experts that there are no minerals 
in the country. 

The unreliable editor of TJie Natural Wealth of Call- 


fornia, states that the first gold was found in the 
Santa Clara valley in 1833, and that other deposits 
were discovered in various places in the Sierra Madre, 

Blount, the pioneer, assured Bishop Kip in 1864, 
that thirty years before, that is to say in 1834, he en- 
countered ore, which at the time he thought to be 
copper, but then knew to be gold. The bishop dis- 
plays extreme credulity even in repeating such a 
statement. About on a par with this is the assertion 
of Mr Gray, who wrote what he calls a History of 
Oregon, that two jovial priests, brought to the Oregon 
coasts by the Hudson's Bay Company, discovered, 
when wandering among the Kocky Mountains, pure 
silver and golden ores, specimens of which they car- 
ried to St Louis and Europe. What their jollity had 
to do with it the historian does not explain; nor does 
he give us proof that any assertion of this kind was 
made by them prior to the discovery of Marshall. 

Governor Alvarado thinks it impertinence on the 
part of Sutter and Marshall to claim the honor of the 
gold discovery ; for in the fourth volume of his His- 
toria de California he observes, " que el pueblo Amer- 
icano es esencialmente egoista cuando trata de hacer 
aparecer al senor Marshall como primer descubridor 
del oro en California; que en buena hora la legislatura 
de premios y pensiones a quienes se le Antoje, yo no 
me mezelo en esos asuntos, desde que mi voz seria 
demasiado debil para efectuar reformas que la mayo- 
ria de los legisladores no desean ver implantadas ; pero 
exijo que no se cifia con laureles que de justicia perte- 
necen d mis compatriotas, la frente de Sutter, Mar- 
shall y demas aventureros que a cada bienio se 
presentan ante la legislatura del Estado reclamando 
recompensas por servicios que han estado muy lejos 
de prestar, y por descubrimientos que habian sido 
liechos mas de quince anos dntes que los titulados 
descubridores del oro Viniesen d California." 

My old friend Warner gives the most plausible ex- 
planation as to the origin of the many ungrounded 


rumors concerning the early discovery of gold in Cali- 
fornia. Several persons, he says, coining to this 
country, brought with them bullion or dust, to be 
used as money, which passing into commerce, was 
handled by different persons and shipped at various 
times to various places. Thus Palacios, arriving in 
1834 as agent for a Guaymas merchant who had pre- 
viously shipped goods to California, and had purchased 
land and cattle, brought a considerable quantity of 
grain gold and silver bars, obtained in Sonora, where- 
with to facilitate his operations. About the same time 
J. P. Leese arrived from New Mexico, having in his 
possession placer gold to the value of several thousand 
dollars. A large proportion of this treasure fell into 
the hands of the agents of Boston merchants, and 
was shipped to Boston, California thus acquiring 
the reputation in certain circles of a gold-producing 
country. Thus Mr Dana, referring to the cargo of 
the Alert, states, in his Two Years Before the Mast, that 
among other things was a quantity of gold-dust 
brought from the interior by Indians or Mexicans. 
And lie learned further from the owners that it was 
not uncommon for homeward-bound vessels to have 
on board a small quantity of gold. Rumors of gold 
discoveries were then current, he adds, but they at- 
tracted little attention. 

In Mexico, by a law of March 24, 1835, was created 
the Establecimiento de Mineria, which body was to 
superintend the mines of California, in case there were 
any, as well as those of northern Mexico. 

Notwithstanding all these affirmations, oaths, and 
prophecies, Alexander Forbes, in 1835, writes : 
"There are said to be many mines of gold and silver 
in the peninsula, but none are now worked, unless, in- 
deed, we may except those of San Antonio, near La 
Paz, which still afford a trifling supply." And again: 
— " No minerals of particular importance have yet 
been found in Upper California, nor any ores of 
metals." And speaking of the coming of Hijars 


party, he says, ''There were goldsmith's proceedhig 
to a country where no gold existerl." 

While on a visit south in 1874, I met at San Luis 
Obispo, Mr Henry B. Blake, author of a historical 
sketch of southern California, who stated that the 
first gold shipped from California was in 1836, and 
came from the source of the Santa Clara river. 

With regard to gold in Lower California, the Pe7i7?2/ 
Cyclopaedia of 1 836 says : — '' The mineral riches are yery 
inconsiderable. Only one mine is worked about ten 
.or twelve miles northwest of La Paz, where gold is ex- 
tracted, but the metal is not abundant." The San 
Antonio mine is the one referred to. " It is supposed 
that the western declivity of the mountains contains 
a considerable quantity of minerals, but if this be the 
case they will probably never be worked, as this part 
of the peninsula is quite uninhabitable." And the 
country to the northward is not very different in the 
opinion of this writer, who continues : '' In minerals 
Upper California is not rich. A small silver mine 
was found east of S. Ines, but it has been abandoned. 
In one of the rivers falling into the southern Tule 
Lake, some gold has been found, but as yet in very 
small quantity." 



Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life ? 
Look but on Gripus or on Gripus' wife. 

— Pope. 

Nearer the mythic than any we have yet encoun- 
tered, in point of elaboration at least, is the story told 
in 1865 by the Paris correspondent of the London 
Star. The writer claims to have discovered, in a pri- 
vate collection in Paris, belonging to an antiquarian 
named M. le Carpentier, the first gold found in Cali- 
fornia. It was in this wise: During the revolution 
of 1830, and for years afterward, M. le Carpentier 
had felt somewhat nervous lest his collection should 
be seized by a mob or by burglars, for it was now 
very valuable. While in this frame of mind he was 
startled, late one night in 1837, by a loud knocking at 
the street door. After some delay he opened it with 
great precaution, and there stood a middle-aged man, 
emaciated, apparently in wretched health, and in tat- 
tered garments. 

*' You do not know me," began the individual, 
speaking somewhat wildly, ^' but I know you, and 
that is enough. I want you to assist me in applying 
to government for a vessel and a hundred men, and I 
will bring back a ship-load of gold." The antiquary's 
face showed what he thought of the proposal. 

"■ Oh, I am not mad," the invalid continued. " See 
here! You are wise. You know the value of this" — 
producing from his pocket a large piece of quartz, 
richly impregnated with gold. M. le Carpentier was 



a kmdhearted man but not avaricious, and he still 
thought his visitor a little insane. Leadino^ him with- 
in, he set food before him, and then giving him for 
a piece of the quartz a napoleon, and telling him to 
call again whenever he pleased, dismissed him. 
The man never reappeared, but the rock, when anal- 
yzed, was found to be rich in gold. Fifteen years 
elapsed, and the incident was well-nigh forgotten, 
when one day a small, heavy parcel, enclosed in a torn 
and greasy handkerchief, was handed with a letter to 
the antiquarian, by the keeper of a lodging house 
in a neighboring street, who said that they were left 
there by a man who had died, and that they had been 
a long time mislaid. What was the antiquary's as- 
tonishment, on opening the letter, to find it from the 
poor invalid, and dated but a few days after his visit, 
while the heavy package was the block of quartz. 

'^I am dying," he wrote. ^* You alone listened to 
me. You alone stretched out a helping hand. I be- 
queath you my secret. The country whence I brought 
■ this gold is called California ! " 

It is stated that a Scotchman, Young Anderson by 
name, attempted, in 1837, to enlist English capital in 
mining ventures, through representations made to him 
by a Guatemalan priest who had lived in California, 
that gold existed in the neighborhood of San Francisco. 
The Scotchman was unsuccessful. 

In 1851, some three years after Marshall's discovery, 
it was related in the Worcester Transcript that one W. 
F. Thompson, an experienced trapper, remembered 
having found gold while on the north Yuba, some 
twelve years before, a pound of which he carried with 
him to Fort Leavenworth. There he left it, no one 
seeming to know or to care what it was. When tidings 
of the gold excitement were noised abroad, he was 
engaged in trapping in the far north, and recognizing 
his mistake, at once hurried back to the spot, only to 
find every inch of the ground uprooted. 

There was quite a mania for mining in Alta Cali- 


fornia about the year 1840. Silver was then the 
attraction, rather than gold. Men, women, and 
children talked about their ores very much as in later 
years stocks were discussed. Copper was about that 
time discovered at Soledad pass, some ninety miles 
north of Los Angeles. 

The Quarterly Revieiv of 1850 states that the English 
botanist, Douglas, was blamed for not having discov- 
ered gold on this coast after having travelled over so 
much of it, and that, too, when ^'the roots of some of 
the pines sent home to England were found to have 
small flakes of gold held together in the clotted earth 
still attached to them ! '' 

Juan B. Alvarado says that the rings which he 
used at hisw^edding, in August 1839, were of California 
gold, and that his eldest daughter has still in her pos- 
session a golden ring fashioned in 1840 at Monterey 
from metal procured at San Fernando. 

In his manuscript dictation, California 1841-8, John 
Bidwell remarks: ^^ Among our party of 1841, the 
general opinion was that there was gold in the Rocky 
Mountains. Some trapper in the Black Hills had 
picked up a stone, and carried it with him for a whet- 
stone, and in the pocket in which he carried the stone 
he found a piece of gold. My comrade, James John, 
before mentioned, actually proposed to me, while we 
were crossing the plains, to remain behind the com- 
pany in the Rocky Mountains to hunt for gold and 
silver. It was almost a daily occurrence to see men 
picking up shining particles, and believing them to be 
something precious." 

"When James D. Dana, of the United States' ex- 
ploring expedition entered California from Oregon, in 
1841, — it is remarkable how many authors copy each 
other's errors, and write this date 1842, — he noticed 
that 'Hhe talcose and allied rocks of the Umpqua and 
Shasty districts resemble in many parts the gold- 
bearing rocks of other regions, but the gold, if any 
there be, remains to be discovered." And on his re- 


turn, when he pubHshed his book on geology, he made 
mention of gold-bearing rocks and quartz veins both 
in Oregon and California. Hence the report became 
current, after the discovery of gold, that Dana had 
told of its existence in California seven years before, 
which was not the case, as he himself distinctly states. 
"It is very doubtful," justly observes Tuthill, in his 
History of California, ** whether it occurred to Profes- 
sor Dana that there was gold to be found here in 
quantities that would ever get into more practical use 
than to lie as rare specimens behind plate doors in 
the mineralogical cabinets of the colleges." Murchi- 
son made similar remarks on the auriferous rocks of 
Australia, and so have twenty other persons spoken 
of twenty other places, which, however, is far from 
the actual discovery of gold. It is, moreover, a little 
singular that so shrewd a man, and so experienced a 
scientist as Dana, should not have seen the gold 
which with the sand and gravel he displaced during 
his journey along Feather river. 

James Anthony Froude claims that by reason of 
his geological knowledge Sir Roderick Murchison was 
enabled to foretell the discovery of Australian gold. 
It is true that Murchison said that this metal might 
be found in Australia; a safe affirmation for one laying- 
no claim to geological divination, and considering the 
size and character of the country. 

At last we have a veritable gold discovery, and 
gold mines worked in Alta California, with greater or 
less success, for a period of six years prior to the dis- 
covery of Marshall. They were situated in the San 
Fernando valley, on the rancho of Ignacio del Valle, 
fourteen leagues from Los Angeles, and eight from the 
San Fernando mission, toward the Sierra Nevada. 
The discovery, which occurred in March 1842, was in 
this wise : Two vaqueros were searching for stray cat- 
tle in the valley, and when tired, threw themselves 
upon the ground to rest. One of them casually tak- 
ing some earth in his hand; noticed shining particles, 


which he fancied were copper. He showed them to 
his companion, who said they looked hke gold, and 
then scraped up some earth, and rubbing it between 
his hands, found more of the metal. Both decided to 
take the dust to Los Angeles, and ask the opinion of 
some of their friends who had worked in the mines of 
New Mexico. It was not until some days later that 
they arrived there, and showed it to certain Sonorans 
who were then at the settlement. They declared that 
it was placer gold, and asked Francisco Lopez — for 
that was the name of the man who found it — to take 
them at once to the locality. Soon afterward they 
set forth, with a number of their friends, for the San 
Fernando valley, guided by the two vaqueros. 

Another version of the discovery is, that in the 
early part of 1840 Don Andres Castillero, a Mexican 
mineralogist, picking up a pebble, called tepustete by 
Mexican placer miners, in the vicinity of the Las 
Virgenes rancho, remarked that wherever these stones 
were found gold must exist. Francisco Lopez, the 
discoverer, overheard the observation and remembered • 
it, when, some months later, while plucking wild 
onions, a similar pebble was found in the soil around 
the roots. He set to work examining the earth, and 
found a grain of gold. Juan Manuel Vaca, owner of 
the rancho on which was built the town of Vacaville, 
was the first to carry the news to Governor Alvarado at 
Monterey, presenting him with an ounce of gold con- 
tained in quills, from which was made a pair of ear- 
rings for his wife and a ring for his eldest daughter. 

In 1842, these mines were worked for a distance of 
ten leagues, and in 1844 for thirty leagues. The gold 
was of the best quality, and many representations 
were made to the supreme government urging the 
necessity of thorough surveys, and of developing the 
mineral resources of California. In the Coleccion de 
documentos relativos at departamento de Californias, 
Manuel M. Castanares writes, "this branch ought to 
be considered less worthy of attracting attention than 


agriculture. It is nevertheless, of great importance, 
and I have the satisfaction of assuring you that it 
forms i^ California one of the most valuable resources 
which that department contains." 

The bed whence the gold waS obtained was of 
gravel, and the cuts into the banks, even as late as 
1845, did not exceed thirty feet. Some of the more 
experienced miners, were able by merely looking at 
the ground, to tell whether or not it contained gold, 
and would scrape the surface with a scoop or spoon 
made of bullock's horn. The earth was then thrown 
into a basket, which was emptied on a platform made 
*of stakes about three feet high, driven close together 
into the ground, with poles placed lengthwise and 
filled in with grass, the whole being covered with a 
cotton sheet. Then water from a distance of six 
feet was thrown over the mud, and in an hour or 
two the dirt would be washed away while the gold 

As soon as this gold discovery was more generally 
known, many people flocked to the mines, and in May 
1844, Ignacio del Valle was appointed juez de policia, 
and Zorrilla, his substitute, to keep order, as well as 
to levy dues upon the sale of liquors, to portion out 
the land, and to impose taxes if necessary. It was 
his business likewise to collect fees for wood, pasture, 
and mineral privileges. About this time there were 
one hundred persons at work in the mines ; but the 
numbers decreased as the running water failed, which 
they continued to do until the miners were unable 
to obtain enough to drink. They were a steady 
and hardworking people, but with all their labor were 
unable to earn more than from one to two dollars a 
day. So scanty indeed were their earnings that no 
taxes or dues were levied for that year. 

Abel Stearns in November 1842 sent to the Phila- 
delphia mint for assay, as specimens of this placer 
gold, eighteen and three quarter ounces mint weight, 
and twenty ounces by. California weight, which in, 

(Jal, Int. Poc. 4 


August following was returned with the accompany- 
ing ^certificate. ''Before melting 18 34-100 oz. ; after 
melting 18 1-100 oz. ; fineness, 926-1,000; value 
$344.75; deduct expenses, sending to Philadelphia, 
and agency there, $4.02; net $340.73." 

By December 1843, two thousand ounces of gold 
had been taken from the San Fernando mines, the 
greater portion of which was shipped to the United 
States; and from that time little is heard of the place 
till in 1845 Bidwell visited it, and found oaly thirty 
men at work whose gains did not exceed twenty-five 
cents a day. 

E. E. Pickett states that in 1842 he met men in* 
the Pocky Mountains who had been in California and 
who said that gold was there. "They were not the 
first to give such information since I had read the same 
when a boy." It is such statements as this that have 
so often deceived the public. Mr Pickett never read 
of gold in Alta California when a boy. "The first 
hide drogers and other traders who visited this coast, 
even as long ago as the last century, obtained small 
quantities of gold-dust washed from the earth in the 
southern part of the state." This assertion is likewise 
misleading if not absolutely untrue. I have elsewhere 
explained how small quantities of gold found their 
way to the coast. 

In the Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California, by 
L. W. Hastings, printed at Cincinnati in 1845, ap- 
pears the following : — "The information which I was 
able to acquire does not afford me sufficient data 
upon which to predicate any very accurate conclusions 
in reference to the mineral resources of California; 
but sufficient investigations have been made to deter- 
mine that many portions of the mountainous regions 
abound with several kinds of minerals, such as gold, 
silver, iron, lead, and coal, but to what extent, the 
extreme newness and unexplored state of the country, 
utterly preclude all accurate determination. It is, 
however, reported in the city of Mexico, that some 


Mexicans have recently discovered a section of coun- 
try, in the extreme interior of California, which af- 
fords ample evidences of the existence of both gold 
and silver ore, in greater or less quantities, for thirty 
leagues in extent. Since this report is so very extra- 
ordinary, and since it originated as above stated, the 
safest course would be to believe but about half of it, 
and then, perhaps, we should believe too much. 
Doctor Sandels, a very able mineralogist, who had for 
some time been employed in his profession by the 
government of Mexico, spent four or five months in 
, mineralogical investigation in Upper California. It was 
from this gentleman that the above information was de- 
rived, hence it is entitled to implicit reliance." Sutter 
took a great interest in this scientist, and in his labors. 
Sandels was a Swede educated in London, as Bidwell 
says, though Thorpe affirms that he obtained his edu- 
cation in a government institution in his own country, 
and that he called himself one of the king's orphans; 
that is, in return for an education at the expense of 
the government he was to make investigations in 
foreign parts for the benefit of the institution, such 
being one of its regulations. Others say that he had 
lived in Mexico and was sent by the duke of Bedford 
to explore California. 

Bidwell thinks that he had been in Brazil, and was 
for some time associated with M. Bonpland. He is 
said to have been robbed in Mexico, of the proceeds 
of property sold in Brazil to the amount of §189,000, 
though how the king's orphan obtained such a sum 
no one attempts to explain. Sandels spent several 
days at New Helvetia enjoying the hospitality of its 
proprietor, who took great delight in his society. 
Seeing him so much interested in minerals, and so 
unwearied in his researches thereabout, Sutter said to 
him one day, '' Doctor, can you not find me a gold 
mine ? " Placing his hand upon the shoulder of his 
host, the doctor replied, " Captain Sutter, your best 
mine is in the soil. Leave to governments to provide 


the currency." This was in 1843. Bidwell further 
states that Sandels explored as far north as Chico 
creek. Mr Dickey was with him. They did not 
examine any mountains except the Buttes. On his 
return to the fort Sandels reported " indications of 
gold, but that unless the mountains on the sides were 
richer than those in the valleys, the mines would not 
pay to work." 

A man came from the southern part of California 
to Sutter Fort in the autumn of this same year, 1843, 
calling himself Juan Baptiste Buelle. In an old quill, 
which looked as if it had been brought from New 
Mexico, were a few particles of gold, which he said he 
had found on the American river. This excited the 
suspicions of Bidwell, who was present, and these 
suspicions were increased when the man asked for two 
pack-horses laden with provisions, and an Indian boy 
to attend him. He wished to go in search of gold, 
he said, and he would be absent several days. There 
was a company of Canadian trappers in the vicinity 
about to start for Oregon. It was not known that 
Buelle belonged to them, but it was feared that with 
so valuable an outfit he might forget to return. 
Hence his request was denied. 

E. Stevens, a practical gold -miner from Georgia, 
and the leader of Townsend's party in 1844, came to 
California with the avowed purpose of discovering 
gold. While crossing the Bocky Mountains, or 
shortly afterward, he thought that he recognized in- 
dications, and one night, when encamped at some 
point in Utah, washed out a small quantity of dirt 
and found the color. Nevertheless, this mining ex- 
pert and professed gold seeker crossed the Sierra, re- 
turned to its summit in the spring for the wagons of 
his party, and thence to camp, thus, without being- 
aware of it, travelling several times over the very 
ground of which he was in search. In the Southern 
Quarterly, in 1845, some one made hap-hazard the fol- 


lowing statement, referring to California : " In the 
liearL of the country rich veins of gold ore exist." 

Both silver and gold were reported north of San 
Francisco bay in 1845 : ''Mines of gold, silver, cop- 
per, lead, sulphur, and quicksilver," writes an emi- 
grant in 1846, ''are being found in all directions." 
And then he mentions as in operation two quicksilver 
mines, yielding thirty per cent of pure ore, one on the 
north and the other on the south side of San Fran- 
cisco bay. " No less than seventy denouncements of 
mines have been made to the alcalde of San Jose 
within the last five months . . . The evidences now are 
that there is a vast field for mining operations about 
to open here." 

Reporting to Commander Montgomery May 2, 
1846, in answer to a request for information respect- 
ing mines in California, Thomas O. Larkin, United 
States consul at Monterey, makes the following state- 
ment: "At San Fernando, near San Pedro, by 
washing the sand in a plate, any person can obtain 
from one to five dollars per day of gold that brings 
seventeen dollars per ounce in Boston. The gold has 
been gathered for two or three years, though but few 
have the patience to look for it. There is no doubt 
in my mind but that gold, silver, copper, quicksilver, 
lead, sulphur, and coal mines are to be found all over 
California. But I am very certain that they will 
under their present owners continue as they are. 
The Indians have always said there were mines, but 
would not show their location, and the Californians 
do not choose to look for them." Elsewhere in his 
report he mentions the copper mines of Juan Bandini, 
ninety miles south of San Diego ; coal on the rancho 
of Bafael Gonzalez, seventy miles south of Monterey, 
and at San Pablo; sulphur beds twenty-five miles 
north of Monterey, and also near Sonoma; silver 
mines about sixty miles north of Monterey; asplial- 
tum in various places ; quicksilver near San Jose and 
Sonoma ; silver and lead twenty miles from Monterey; 


lead on the rancho of Captain Richardson ; black lead 
at various points, and slate on the Sacramento river. 

On the 4th of May, 1846, Larkin writes from Mon- 
terey to the secretary of state at Washington: ''By 
the laws and customs of Mexico respecting mining, 
every person or company, foreign or native, can pre- 
sent themselves to the nearest authorities and denounce 
any unworked mine. The authorities will then, after 
the proper formalities, put the denouncer in possession 
of a certain part of it, or all ; which is, I believe ac- 
cording to its extent. The possessor must hereafter 
occupy and work his mine, or some other person may 
denounce against him. In all cases the government 
claims a certain portion of the product. Up to the 
present time there are few or no persons in California 
witli sufficient energy and capital to carry on mining, 
although a Mexican officer of the army, a padre, and 
a native of New York are, on a very small scale, ex- 
tracting quicksilver from the San Jose mine." 

Besides the statements having some pretentions to 
truth were many absurd stories ; such as that gold 
was discovered by the Mormons in fulfilment of a 
prophecy of Joseph Smith ; and again, that a Pawnee 
chief, to whom Sutter had given a rifle, and who died 
some three months later, appeared to Sutter in the 
spirit and told him where to find gold, begging him 
meanwhile to buy with it a rifle for every member of 
his tribe. In 1864 John Bidwell was told by Brig- 
ham Young that some of his men claimed to have 
found gold prior to the discovery of Marshall, but 
that it was doubtless a mistake. 

After a brief visit to California L. W. Sloat, in 
December, 1846, read a paper before the Lyceum of 
Natural History in New York, in which he said : ''I 
am confident that when it (California) becomes settled, 
as it soon will be by Americans, the mineral develop- 
ments will greatly exceed in richness and variety the 
most sanguine expectations" — which after all was no 
very remarkable prophecy. 


Juan Bandini imagined, in 1846, that the hills 
around San Diego were impregnated with metal; in- 
deed a metal of some unknown description had already 
been discovered. Writing in his Historia de la Alta 
California he says : '' Empero, de lo que yo creo que 
son abundantes estas pequenas sierras es de metales, 
pues todas las piedras de la superficie asi lo indican, y 
aun se ha sacado para fundicion un metal cuya calidad 
no se ha conocido, atribuyendo esto d, la escasez de 
hombres de conocimientos mineralogicos." 

''During 1847," Picket says, '' and particularly in 
the fall of that year, there was quite an excitement in 
San Francisco and San Jose on the subject of mineral 
discoveries. But this was mostly in reference to 
quicksilver and silver mines, which were reported to 
be rich and numerous in the hills and mountains 
bounding both sides of the valley of San Jose. To- 
ward winter this excitement subsided, all the silver 
mines having proved to be humbugs." 

One George M. Evans, of Oregon, aspires to the 
distinction of having been among the first to find gold 
in California; or at least he attempts to throw Mar- 
shall into the background. If what he claims for 
himself has no better basis of truth than what he 
claims for others, he may take the palm for unblush- 
ing impudence and mendacity. Meanwhile let him 
be satisfied with the notoriety to which he has already 
attained ; for its odor will not be improved by further 
agitation. So far as I am able, to ascertain, it was he 
who started the story of Cabello, before mentioned, 
and most bungling work he made of it. Will Mr 
Evans tell us to what lingo belong the words placeros, 
and Recordado en Historia el California Alta, and how 
he obtained information that the mission of San Jose 
was built on the bay of San Francisco in 1672, a hun- 
dred years before ever a Franciscan was on the ground ? 

I do not say that all which he affirms is false, for I have 
no means of knowing. I only say that the statements 
which I know to be false cause me to distrust all his 


assertions. A Mexican named Salvador, he says, was 
shot at Yerba Buena in the autumn of 1845. On his 
person was gold-dust to the value of a thousand dol- 
lars or more. He at first refused to tell where he 
obtained it ; but in his dying hour relented, and point- 
ing "in the direction of the San Jose mountains," 
cried, " lejos ! lejos ! " Where the San Jose mountains 
are situated, or what mines were ever found beyond 
them, Mr Evans does not relate. While with a party 
of Mormons, who, in the autumn of 1846, ascended 
the San Joaquin river, on " the sand point of the small 
island opposite to what is called the entrance to Stock- 
ton, then called Lindsey's lake," he picked up some 
yellow specks from the bank, and rememberhig what 
the Mexican, Salvador, had said, wrapped them in 
paper, took them to Yerba Buena, and testing them 
with acids found them to be gold. 

If this be true, why did not Mr Evans gather gold, 
or publish his discovery ? Because, as he claims, of 
'' not having any idea of the gold being in such quan- 
tity as Avas afterward proved." But if it was not 
there in quantity sufficient even to be worthy of men- 
tion, where did Salvador obtain his bag of it ? Again 
in August, 1847, in company with Beading and Per- 
kins, Evans writes, ''we explored the mountains near 
San Diego, and near the river Gila, where we found 
gold more abundant than has since been found on the 
north fork of the American." If this was true it is 
singular that some one did not go there and gather 

Once more, on being informed by Henderson Cox 
that he and others were about to explore a route 
across the mountains for the approaching Mormon 
exodus, he told him of Salvador, and drew for him a 
chart of the country. Cox went his way, came upon 
Mormon island and the gold there, and invited Evans 
to join him. The latter reached that point on the 
19th of January, 1848, and by the 8th of February 
had nineteen thousand dollars. On the next day 


while lie and others *^ were in the lower end of the 
mJll-race, Marshall the overseer and his little girl 
came in, and the child picked up a pretty stone, as 
she called it, and showed it to her father who pro- 
nounced it gold. He was so excited about it that he 
saddled his horse and that day rode to Sutter's fort 
to tell Captain Sutter, but he did not believe it worth 
n">tice, and for a while the idea died away. The 
Mormons wishing to keep their discoveries a secret 
from people not Mormons worked out the gold and 
said nothmg more . . . Marshall died either four days 
before he arrived home in the eastern states with a 
barrel of gold, or four days from the coast.'' Amongst 
the falsehoods so thickly scattered here, it is difficult 
to detect a particle of truth. Marshall never went 
east never had a barrel of gold ; was not dead ; the 
Mormons never worked out the gold ; never wished 
to keep their discovery secret from all who were not 
Mormons, nor did they first discover gold; Evans 
was not present when the first gold was found at the 
saw-mill ; the idea with Sutter never died away ; Cox 
and Beardsley were not the first to find Mormon 
Island ; Sutter did believe Marshall's statement backed 
by tne evidence worth his notice ; Marshall's child did 
not pick up the gold ; Marshall had no child present ; 
and so on back to the beginning. I must apologize 
for occupying so much space in criticising a work so 
unworthy of notice as that of George M. Evans; 
but if this for myself be necessary, I should apolo- 
gize in a ten-fold degree for the many journalists, 
here and in the east, who published his Munch au- 
senisms as facts, and thus imposed on a credulous 
public. One of his statements Evans concludes 
with the oflensive intimation that he would not ob- 
ject to a gift from the government in return for the 
inestimable benefit conferred by him on mankind. 
Several attempts have been made to rob Marshall of 
the honor of the discovery ; but so far from the exist- 
ence of extensive gold deposits being known prior to 


the building of the saw-mill, it was with difficulty 
men could be made to believe the fact even after it 
was ascertained beyond a doubt. 

I will inflict upon the reader but one more of these 
pure inventions whose sole merit is their extravagance. 
A stranger giving his name as Bennett entered 
Brown's hotel, San Francisco, in the summer of 1847. 
After inviting the landlord to drink, he asked him 
whether he knew of any one having a thousand dol- 
lars to invest in something which would yield enor- 
mous returns, and being thereupon introduced to one 
George McDougall, said that he wanted a thousand 
dollars to invest in blankets for traffic with the In- 
dians, offering as security two small bags containing 
what he declared to be gold. The men of San Fran- 
cisco looked at the backwoodsman as if they thought 
him demented. Meanwhile McDougall's wrath was 
rising, and finally he broke out. ''Do you think 
I am a fool ! " Bennett walked off, muttering 
''Yes, I think you are ; and you will find it out one 
of these days." In the autumn of the following 
year he again visited San Francisco and showed 
Brown three hundred pounds of gold-dust, stating 
that after his interview with McDougall he went to 
Monterey to obtain either the money or the blankets 
from Thomas O. Larkin, " but as soon as he laid eyes 
on him he concluded not to ask." 

In 1847 three noted characters of the day. Moun- 
tain Jim, Dutch Fred, and Three-fingered Jack 
sported silver buttons in Monterey, the metal where- 
for, they said, had been taken from the old Indian 
claim on the south branch, or Carmelo creek. Some 
soldiers traded government rations for the buttons,, 
and the army paymaster finally had them assayed at 
Washington where they stood the test. It was com- 
mon enough in 1847 and 1848 to see silver in the 
hands of the natives at the Carmelo ; but little was 
thought of it at the time, for during the war many 
mission flagons, censors, chalices, and candlesticks 


had been melted down, the metal finding its way into 

In his message of 1848, President Polk stated that 
at the thne of the acquisition of California, the exis- 
tence was known of precious metals to a considerable 
extent — referring of course to the de^'elopments in 
the southern part of the state. 

*' Although rumors of the existence of gold in Cal- 
ifornia had occasionally been heard," said Dwinelle in 
an address before the society of Pioneers in 1866, 
*^ still they had never been verified or traced to any re- 
liable source; and they were regarded as we now 
regard the fabulous stories of the golden sands of Gold 
Lake, or those of Silver Planches which are said to ex- 
ist in the inaccessible deserts of Arizona." 

Tinkham, in his History of StocJcton, says that Weber 
was not surprised to hear of Marshall's discovery, *' as 
he knew that gold existed in the mountains of San 
Luis Obispo and Santa Bdrbara, because he had re- 
ceived dust in small quantities from the Mexicans at 
San Jose " — a reasonable deduction truly I 

The reader has probably observed how many there 
were who already knew of the existence of gold in 
California as soon as Marshall discovered it. Sutter 
never pretended to this, though he thought it strange 
that the natives had not brought him gold, for he was 
always urging them to collect for him any curiosities 
that could be gathered in the mountains; in answer 
to which appeal were brought to him plants, animals, 
birds, fruits, pipe-clay, red ochre, and legends of vari- 
ous kinds, but never gold. 

*' I was in possession of a fact," writes the Rev. W. 
Colton, alcade of Monterey, in May 1849,^' which left no 
doubt of the existence of gold in the Stanislaus, more 
than a year prior to its discovery on the American 
Fork." Reverend and dear sir, no one doubts that 
gold was there before Marshall found it; it is the 
knowledge of its existence that was not as yet revealed. 
*'A wild Indian," Mr Colton continues, "had strag- 


gled into Monterey with a specimen which he had 
hammered into a clasp for his bow. It fell into tlie 
hands of my secretary, W. R. Garner, who communi- 
cated the secret to me. The Indian described the 
locality in which it was fomid with so much accuracy 
that Mr Garner, on his recent excursion to the mines, 
readily identified the spot. It is now known as Car- 
son's Diggings. . .It was the full intention of Mr Gar- 
ner to trail this Indian at the first opportunity, and 
he was prevented from so doing only by the impera- 
tive duties of the office." 

Both Parsons and Barstow affirm that previous to 
his discovery, Marshall had often expressed his belief 
in the existence of gold in the mountains ; and Mrs 
Weimer goes so far as to assert that the discovery 
was not accidental. It is indeed somewhat remarka- 
ble that the secret remained so long unrevealed. The 
ground had been traversed these many years by na- 
tives, by servants of the fur-companies and free trap- 
pers, by emigrants, by explorers, and by professional 
scientists who observed nothing, notwithstanding that 
the tell-tale blush was there upon the foothills plahily 
visible to those who could read it. And yet it is no 
matter for surprise. Do not even the most gifted 
in this latter-day dispensation, with all the brilliant 
light revealed by science, walk as men blind or dream- 
ing, while on every side, wrapped in the invisible, or 
latent in the earth and air and sky, are secrets as 
manifold, and as pregnant with meaning as any hith- 
erto divulged, awaiting but the eternal march of 
mind ? 

If Dana and Sandels, or any of those who have been 
heedlessly credited with the discovery, had really 
found gold as did Marshall, and had published it to 
the world as did the teamster, how different might 
have been the destiny of the Pacific coast nations. 
To England, or to France, either of which countries 
would have paid thrice over the paltry fifteen 
millions and the indemnity due the United States, 


California might then have belonged ; or even Mexico 
herself might have awakened from her lethargy, and 
gathered from this new-bom El Dorado sufficient gold 
wherewith to satisfy her creditors. In such a case 
how different would have been the appearance, for 
better or worse, of the hills and valleys of the golden 

Morever, without the gold of California to counter- 
balance that which England found in Australia, where 
would have been the commerce of the United States ? 
Where would have been our credit during the war for 
the union, when even with California gold, poured in- 
to New York at the rate of three or four millions a 
month, the federal promises to pay fell to one-third of 
their face ? The vital sustenance of that w^ar was Cal- 
ifornia gold and Nevada silver, without which foreign 
occupation in the Pacific States was possible, and for- 
eign domination, with abolition of Monroe doctrines 
and the like, extremely probable. 

In conclusion, it is hardly necessary for me to state 
that there is as yet no sufficient evidence of any knowl- 
edge by white men of the existence of gold in the 
Sierra foothills, prior to the discovery at the Coloma 
saw-mill on the 24th of January, 1848. Even were it 
not so; if, for instance, as in the case of America and 
the Northmen, the existence of the continent had been 
once known, and the knowledge lost or forgotten, to 
Columbus, none the less, would belong the honor of dis- 
covery. So with Marshall. There may have been 
some who thought of gold, or talked of gold, or even 
handled gold before January 1848; but, none the less, 
to James Marshall belongs the honor of its discovery, 
if indeed, it can be called an honor. The difference in 
the merit of the two discoveries, not to mention their 
relative importance, as to which, of course, there can 
be no comparison, is that in the one case Columbus be- 
lieved in a new world and sought it, while Marshall 
stumbled on his discovery by the merest accident. 



OF 1848. 

Plutus. I shan't go near that fellow, Jupiter. 

Jupiter. How, my good Plutus, not when I bid you ? 

Plutus. No. He insulted me, turned me out of his house, and scattered 
me in all directions, — me, the old friend of the family, all but pitched lue 
out of doors, as if I burnt his fingers. What! go back to him, to be thrown 
to his parasites, and toadies, and harlots? No; send me to those who value 
the gift, who will make much of me, who honor me, and desire my company, 
and let all these fools keep house still with Poverty who prefer her to me. 
Let them get her to give them a spade and an old sheepskin, and go dig for 
their two-pence a-day, after squandering thousands in gifts to their friends. 

Jupiter. Timon will never behave so to you again. 

— Lucian. 

When at length civilization began to creep into the 
canons of the Sierra foothills, and the cry of gold was 
raised, how was answered the mill-race digger's shout ? 
Tamely enough, at first. Few heeded it, or imagined 
that it amounted to any more than a thousand other 
great or small discoveries made since Spaniards began 
their explorations northward from Mexico. Gold was 
thinly distributed over wide areas, with richer depos- 
its at intervals, so that for one great discovery, there 
were a hundred which were hardly worth attention. 

When bags and bottles of it were displayed at Be- 
nicia, at Sonoma, at San Francisco, and Monterey, 
the sleepy towns began to rub their eyes, and awake 
to the fact that here was gold, bright yellow hard 
gold, and in such quantities as might well and quickly 
claim their consideration. The quiet of pastoral Cali- 
fornia was disturbed ; the pulses of the people quick- 
ened as with one accord they directed their eyes 
northward. Thence spread the news to Mexico, to 
Oregon, to the islands of the sea, to the eastern shore 
of the continent, to South America, and to the conti- 



nenti of the so-called old world. White people heard 
of it, and black people ; coppery, red, and yellow peo- 
ple, — came rushmg in from every quarter, all eager 
for some of the delectable dirt. 

Much has been written regarding the Coloma gold 
discovery. Much about it worth knowing remains 
unwritten. The choicest unpublished information to 
my knowledge is that contained in the manuscript of 
Henry W. Bigler, Diary of a Mormon in California, 
who was on the ground at the time, with a remarkably 
clear head and ready pen. The statement given me 
by Mr Sutter at Litiz, and contained in the manuscript 
entitled Personal Reminiscences of General John Angus- 
tus Sutter, is also exceedingly interesting and valuable. 
I will herewith present verbatim several of the more 
important accounts of the discovery. 

Marshall was a queer genius. I speak with exact- 
ness, for he was both a genius and queer. I have in 
my possession an old daguerreotype which is unlike 
any other portrait that I have seen. Parson's Lfe of 
Marshall is the best book upon the subject extant. 
Naturally kind and humane, his mind dreamy while 
his faculties were in repose, but of cragged disposition 
and inclined to be a little fierce when roused, all along 
his later life he was made morose by what he deemed 
injustice and neglect on the part of the people, and of 
the government. " The enterprising energy of which 
the orators and editors of California's early golden 
days boasted so much as belonging to Yankeedom,'' 
he writes bitterly in 1857, "was not national but indi- 
vidual. Of the profits derived from the enterprise it 
stands thus, Yankeedom $600,000,000; myself hidi- 
vidually $000,000,000. Ask the records of the coun- 
try for the reason why ? They will answer, I need 
not. Were 1 an Englishman, and had made my dis- 
covery on English soil, the case would have been 
different." Mr Hittell visited him at Coloma in his 
retirement, where he alone remained of all those early 
discoverers, **No photograph of him has ever been 


obtained '* he said. '' I requested him to let me get a 
necrative, from which I would have pictures taken 
and sold in San Francisco for his benefit, but he re- 
fused indignantly. The thought of the injustice that 
had been done him made him unhappy. He wanted 
no allusion made to the debt due by California to him. 
Others have been loaded with wealth and honor, and 
he has been left to struggle along in poverty and ob- 
scurity, he who discovered the gold that made Cali- 
fornia what it is." Poor Marshall ! Too simple and 
sensitive by half! Had he made the gold, and it had 
been stolen from him by an ungrateful republic, he 
would not have been in his own opinion more cruell}^ 
wronged than by this neglect to reward him for — 
what? Yet we can but feel kindly toward the man 
who, though mistaken in what constitutes greatness, 
and merit worthy of public reward, was nevertheless 
well-meaning, honest, and industrious. His name will 
forever be conspicuous in the annals of the country, 
howsoever accidentally it became so. 

Yet far more than in picking from the historic tail- 
race the first particle of the divine dirt found there, 
Marshall had often played the hero. The world 
knows its impudent men, its brassy, bellowing fellows; 
but how few of its real noblemen ! Many generous 
deeds are recorded of Marshall while in the war ; and 
it was not an unmanly act, the saving his saw-mill, in 
the way he did, from a freshet which threatened it 
just before the discovery of gold. The dam was built 
of brush with the butts laid down stream. The rains 
coming on, the river rose, and fears were entertained 
that the works would all be swept away. Side by side 
with his men, Marshall worked day and night, and 
received therefor the praise of his partner, and the 
respect and admiration of his associates. Up to his 
waist in water, in constant peril of his life, for many 
hours he worked, and finally succeeded in anchoring 
the mill in safety. 

Marshall claimed to have been the cause of the dis- 


covery of gold in Australia as well as in California. 
The story goes that an Englishman, named Har- 
graves, came one day to the Coloma mill for lumber. 
He seemed specially in a bad humor, for he was curs- 
ing California, and the people, and lauding to 'eaven 
he very thing, Haustralian and Henglish. Marshall 
let him go on for a while without saying a word. 
Finally he broke out: 

"See here, my friend !" if you don't like this coun- 
try, why do you come here ? Nobody invites you. 
Nobody will cry if you take yourself off. Go home, 
and dig gold. I warrant you I could find the stuff in 
Australia." The speaker, beginning sharply, had 
gradually, almost unconsciously dropped hito a medi- 
tative strain. 

The man took it up in earnest. Marshall was a 
great character thereabout; he had found gold in 
California, and surely he must know if it was in Aus- 

''Do you really think so?" asked Hargraves. 

''I am sure of it," said Marshall. 

'' If I thought so I would go." And he went. And 
for the millions of pounds sterling turned by this 
means into the British treasury, he received from the 
British government £5,000, and from the Australian 
government £10,000, while Marshall from his un- 
grateful country received nothing. 

Everybody was busy and cheerful at the Coloma 
mill on the afternoon of the 24th of January 1848, for 
the heavy rains which had threatened to destroy the 
dam during the first half of the month had ceased, 
and the danger was past. There were several of the 
Battalion boys here at work in various ways. They 
had come hither, last from the half-completed flour- 
ing-mill at Brighton ; and such had been their suffer- 
ings during their terrible march from Council Bluff 
and Santa Fe, as to make the double pine-log-and- 
clapboarded cabin seem exceedingly comfortable, and 

Cal. Int. Poc. 5 


the grizzly bears, and wolves, and wild Indians more 
companionable than civilized man with his detestable 
prejudices and tyrannies. Present assisting^ on the 
works were eight good Indians from New Helvetia, 
and because they would not speak when spoken to, 
the valley people did not like their brethren of the 
mountains, but called them mala gente, and wanted to 
kill them. 

Weinier and his aboriginal mechanics were indus- 
triously employed in the lower part of the race, which 
by this time was nearly deep enough at that end. 
Up near the place where the mill-wheel was to be 
Bigler was drilling into an obstinate boulder. Ben- 
nett and Scott were working at the bench; Stephens 
and Barger were hewing timber; Smith and John- 
son were felling trees. Near the men's cabin, and 
close by where Bigler was blasting, Brown was whip- 
sawing with an Indian. This heathen was greatly 
interested in affairs, and worked with a will ; for he 
had been told that this machine when finished would 
saw out boards of its own volition ; whereat he had 
responded that it was a lie. It was as good as a play 
to see this fellow when the mill was first started run- 
ning. He was '' completely beaten," Bigler says. 
*' He lay on his belly, where he could have a fair view 
from the bank, but near the saw ; and he lay there 
for two hours watching it. He was taken with it, 
and said it was wano — Indian Spanish for bueno — 
and wanted to be a sawyer right away." 

Brown and Big^ler were amusino^ themselves, while 
at their work, by quizzing the doubting aboriginal in 
the saw-pit respecting supernatural agency in the 
handling of saw-logs, when they were approached by 
a young Indian who requested them to get him a tin 
plate, at once, for Mr Marshall, who was at the lower 
end of the race with Weimer. Brown jumped off 
from the log, and brought from the cabin the plate, 
wondering meanwhile what Marshall could want with 
the thing. When about to quit work for the night, 


Marshall came up and said, " Boys, I believe I have 
found a gold mine." The remark produced no start- 
ling effect upon his hearers, and Marshall walked off 
to his house on the mountain-side which he had lately- 
built for himself Later Marshall visited the men's 
cabin, and again remarked that he was almost sure 
he had found gold at the lower end of the race. Then 
he said, *' Brown, I want you and Bigler to shut 
down the head-gate early in the morning. Throw in 
a little saw-dust, rotten leaves, and dirt ; make all 
tight, and we will see what will come of it." 

The men do as they had been told. And while 
they are at breakfast Marshall goes down to the mill- 
race alone. After breakfast the men come out, and 
each betakes himself to his work. Presently Mar- 
shall appears, his old white hat within his arm, look- 
ing wonderfully pleased. A smile overspreads his 
face, and the boys know that it means something 
unusual. Coming nearer, slowly, quietly, yet in 
heavy depth of tone he speaks : '' Boys, by God, I've 
got it ; " and he places his * hat down on a bench in 
the mill-yard. All gather round to see what it is ; 
and there, sure enough, on the top of the crown, 
knocked in a little, lies the worshipful metal. There 
is about half an ounce of it, in flakes and grains, from 
the smallest particle to pieces as large as a kernel of 
wheat or larger, and though not one of the party has 
ever before seen gold in its native state, there is no 
longer a skeptic among them. Azariah Smith draws 
from his pocket a five-dollar piece, part of his mili- 
tary pay, and compares it with the dust. There 
seems to be little difference in color or weight ; the 
coin is somewhat lighter in tint, which is accounted for 
by reason of its alloy. Not a very crucial test, but 
all sufficient at this juncture. 

Led by Marshall, all now hasten down the race, 
and soon are absorbed in picking from the seams and 
crevices the precious metal. They conclude that 
the deposit is rich ; and from this time the fe\^er 


sets in. Further tests are" applied, for trembling 
doubts will arise, and some is thrown into vinegar, 
and some is boiled in Mrs Weimer's soap kettle. En- 
joining secrecy Marshall takes some of the gold and 
goes with it to the fort to have it further tested. 
And when he returns thus he delivers himself: ''Oh 
boys ! it's the pure stuff." Then he goes on to relate 
his adventure: " I and the Old Cap " for so he calls 
Sutter, " went into a room and locked ourselves up. 
And we were half a day trying it. And the regulars 
there wondered what the devil was up. They thought 
perhaps I had found quicksilver, as the woman did 
down toward Monterey. Well ! we compared it with 
the Encyclopedia, and it agreed with it ; we applied 
aqua fortis but it would have nothing to do with it. 
Then we weighed it in w^ater; we took scales with 
silver coin in one side balanced by the dust in the 
other, and gently let them down into a basin of water ; 
and the gold went down and the silver up." And 
he motions the manner of it with his hands. " That 
told the story what it was," he concludes. 

Marshall reported further that Sutter would soon 
be there, and examine into the matter for himself 
Sure enough, next day Marshall entered the men's 
cabin and said, " Boys, the Old Cap has come ; he is 
up at my house. Now I will tell you what we will 
do. You know, he always carries his bottle. Let us 
each throw in and give Henry some gold, and in the 
morning, when you shut down the head-gate, let him 
take it down and sprinkle it over the base rock ; and 
w^hen the Old Gent comes down, and sees it lying there, 
he will be so excited that he will out -with his bottle 
and treat all hands." It was agreed ; the salting was 
done ; and while the men were at breakfast next morn- 
ing they saw Sutter, with Marshall and Weimer on 
either side of him, coming down to the mih. Sutter 
was dressed with care as became the owner of square 
leagues, and the commander of a fortress, and he 
walked with a cane. The men stepped out into the 


mill-yard, and heartily and respectfully greeted their 
employer, who invited them to join the party in a 
walk down the race. While on the way one of 
Weimer's little boys ran on in advance of them, and 
seeing the shining substance so temptingly displayed, 
the pest picked up nearly every particle of it, and came 
running back almost out of breath, and crying, ^'Father ! 
Father ! See what I have found ! " Marshall and his 
men each to heaven breathed a silent curse on that 
innocent head for having spoiled their fun. Sutter, 
seeing it, struck his cane into the ground and ex- 
claimed, " By Jo ! its rich." The boy had left un- 
rifled the seams, and crevices, and gravel deposits, 
and the men after all had an exciting time of it gold- 
picking, Sutter among the rest. 

There is little wonder the statements are conflicting 
when no one saw it all, and each was able to describe 
correctly only those parts of which he was an eye wit- 
ness. And after innumerable repetitions and disput- 
ings, confusion arose. Some even denied that Marshall 
was the first discoverer at Coloma, but tliis assertion 
is not worthy of consideration. Then there was a 
controversy over the first piece found, and what be- 
came of it, more senseless than the rest. Sutter, at 
Litiz, showed me a ring upon w^hich was engraved on 
the outside his coat of arms, and on the inside. " The 
first gold discovered in January 1848." And yet it 
was not, speaking with exactness, the first gold dis- 
covered ; for Sutter says in his statement that some 
of it he picked up himself, and some was given him 
by the men then present. The ring weighed an 
ounce and a half. Then Mrs Weimer claimed to 
have had in her possession for many years the very 
first piece picked up, and which Marshall gave her. 
This cannot be true, as according to Marshall's testi- 
mony the first piece weighed fifty cents, whereas Mrs 
Weimer's piece was equal to five dollars and twelve 
cents. It is safe to conclude that the destiny of this 
first piece is lost to history. 


The following copies of statements may be relied 
upon as correct, word for word with the respective 
originals. And as first in importance I give the ac- 
count delivered me from his own lips by General 

One rainy afternoon in January 1848, Marshall, dripping with water, en- 
tered my office, next the guard house, in a hurried excited manner, and a kcd 
to see me alone in the big house, which was my private office, and the clerk i' 
offices. I was surprised, because the day before I sent up all that he wanted, 
mill-iron and everything, I could not imagine what he wanted, yet I con- 
ducted hun to my private rooms, parlor and bedroom, and we entered and 
shut the door. In tliis parlor I had very ancient furniture made by the Ru i- 
sians at Fort Ross, the first manufactured in California, being of laurel, and 
very clumsy. Yeb it was better than the chairs in many rich men's home3 of 
that period. Often have I gone into the house of a well-to-do owner of large 
herds of cattle, and have been offered a bullock's head to sit on, as a chair. 
Marshall asked me if the door was locked. I said, 'no, but I will lock it.' 
He was a singular man, and 1 took this to be some fyeak of his. I was not 
in the least afraid of him. I had no weapon. There was no gun in the 
room. I only supposed, as he was queer, that lie took this queer way to tell 
me some secret. 

He first said to me, 'Are we alone ? ' I replied, ' Yes. ' * I want two 
bowls of water,' said he. I rang the bell for a servant. I had six different 
signals for six different clerks and servants. The bowls of water were 
brought. 'Now I want a stick of redwood,' said Marshall, 'and some twine 
and some sheet copper.' ' What do you want of all these things, Marshall ? ' 
said 1. 'I want to make some scales,' he replied. 'But I have scales 
enough in the apothecary's shop,' said 1. I had all the time a doctor, when 
I could get one, and a hospital, and treated people without charge. ' I did 
not think of that,' said Marshall. I went myself and got some scales. 

Meanwhile the door had become unlocked again, and so remained, although 
it was on the side of the room adjoining, my rooms being double. It was 
not my office, but my private rooms. 

When I returned with the scales, I shut the door, but did not lock it 
again. Then Marshall pulled out of his pantaloons' pocket a white cotton 
rag, which contained something rolled up in it. Just as he was unfolding it 
to show me the contents, the door was opened by a clerk passing through, 
who did not know that we were in the room. *'ihere,' exclaimed Marshall, 
quickly thrusting the cotton cloth again in his pocket, ' did not I tell you we 
had listeners ? ' I appea.ed him, ordered the clerk to retire, and locked the 
door. Then he brought out his mysterious secret again. Opening the cloth 
he held it before me in his hand. It contained what might have been about 
an ounce and a half of gold-dust, flaky and in grains, the largest piece not quite 
so large as a pea, and from that down to less than a pin-head in size. ' I 
l)elieve this is gold,' said Marshall, 'but the people at the mill laughed at 
me, and called me crazy.' I carefully examined it, and said to him, *Well, 
it looks so; we will try it.' Then I went to the apothecary's shop, and got 
aqua fortis and applied it. The stuff stood the test. Marshall asked me if 
I had any silver. I said, * yes, ' and produced a few dollars. Tlien we put 
an equal quantity in weight of gold in one side and silver in the other, and 
dropping the two in the bowls of water, the gold went down and outweighed 
the silver under water. Then I brought out a volume of the old American 
encyclopedia, a copy of which I happened to have, to see what other tests 
there were. Then I said to him, ' I believe this is the finest kind of gold. ' 

Then he said he wished I would accompany him immediately to the mill. 
It was about supper-time, and raining hard. I said, ' You had better take 
supper now; I will go up early in the morning, as soon as I have given my 


men orders and arranged the afifairs of the day,' Marshall would not wait 
for supper or anything else, but mounted and rode off in the rain. The 
Spanisii serapes were very good to keep the rain off. 

At once, and during the night, the curse of the thing burst upon my 
mind. I saw from the beginning how the end would be, and the next day I 
had a melancholy ride of it to the saw-mill. Of course I knew nothing of 
the extent of the discovery, but I was satisfied, whether it amounted to 
much or little, that it would greatly interfere with my plans. 

Attended by my sergeant and one of my soldiers — both Indians — I set 
out next morning for the mill. When about half way there I discovered an 
object moving about in the bushes noar the road. Turning to my attendant 
lacked, 'What is that?' He replied, *It is the same man who was with 
you last night. ' Riding up, I found, sure enough, it was Marshall. It was 
then raining hard. 'Have you been here all night?' I a;ked. 'No, 'he 
replied, 'I spent the night at tlie mill, and came back thus far to meet you.' 

During our ride to the mill, Marshall was still very restles^. He said he 
believed the whole country round was rich witli gold. When we arrived he 
went with me to the mill-race. People were at work widening and deepen- 
ing the race. Then he told them to quit work and let the water through. 
After it had run a while he ordered it stopped again. Meanwhile the water 
had washed the gravel and dirt away, and then Ave went in hunting for the 
little pieces such as Marshall had brought down. I picked some up, and 
then each of the Mormons gave me some, and jNIarshall gave me some, too. 
Then I said, ' This all must be made into a finger- ring, as soon as we can 
get a goldsmith,' and later this was done, and 1 have this ring now. Plere 
it is. It weighs about an ounce and a half, and bears the inscription, ' The first 
gold discovered, in January 1848.' I had my coat of arms engraved on it. 

I told the people there that it was gold, that there was no mistake, and 
that I only a^ked tliat its discovery should be kept a secret for six weeks 
until I got my flour-mill ready, and tliey all were very willing to do so. 

But this was not to be. Ihe men could not get along without provisions, 
and I sent some up by a Swiss teamster. I should liave sent my Indians. 
Mr? Weimer had some boys, who said to the teamster, 'We have g >t some 
gold.' The man laughed at them, when the mother exclaimed, 'Well, you 
need not laugh. It is true we have found gold. Look here, what do you 
call that ? ' This woman little knew the consequences to me of this thought- 
less wagging of her tongue. 

The teamster secured some of this gold and returned to the fort. At that 
time Sam Brannan and George Smith, a relative of the great Mormon 
prophet, now high in the Utali church, kept a store in one of my outhouses 
near the fort. Tliis was the first store, except my own, started in the valley. 
There were then a good many settlers in tlie valley, and they brought to this 
Mormon store hides, tallow, and skins, and took away manufactured articles. 
McKinstry, who was with me then, called it a shirt-tail store, for every time 
I wanted a few things for my Indians, the proprietors exclaimed, ' O, you 
will break the assortment ! ' Nevertheless, this store assumed great impor- 
tance a? soon as gold was discovered. 

AVoinen and whiskey helped the thing along. It was a fundamental and 
unalterable law of the shirt-tail store that credit should not be given for 
whiskey. This was altogether too valuable a commodity to be trusted out. 
The Swiss teamster was universally thirsty. He wanted now a bottle of 
brandy. At the counter where he had been so often refused, he presented 
hi nself, called for his poison, and at the same time proudly came down with 
the dust. 

' What is that ? You know very well liquor means money, ' exclaimed 
brother Smith. 

' That is money, ' replied the teamster. ' It is gold. ' 

' Yes, yes, that will do, ' said Smith. * I have no time for your pleasant- 
tries. ' 

'Go to the fort and ask the captain if you don't believe me.' 


Smith came in hot haste, and said, ' Your man came to me and said that 
this is gold. Of course I knew he lied, and told him so. ' 

' Nevertheless it is gold,' said I, and so the secret was out. 

Next I will give the account by George Frederick 
Parsons, which may be regarded as the best of Mar- 
shall's versions: 

On the morning of that memorable day Marshall went out as usual to 
superintend tlie men, and after closing the fore-bay gate, and thus sliutting 
off the water, walked down the tail-race, to see what sand and gravel had 
been removed during the night. This had been customary with him for some 
time, for he had previously entertained the idea that there might be minerals 
in the mountains, and had expressed it to Sutter, who, however, only 
laughed at him. On this occasion, having strolled to the lower end of the 
race, he stood for a moment examining the mass of debris that had been 
washed down ; and at this juncture his eye caught the glitter of something 
that lay, lodged in a crevice, on a riffle of soft granite, some six inches under 
the water. His first act was to stoop and pick up the substance. It was 
heavy, of a peculiar color, and unlike anything he had seen in the stream 
before. For a few minutes he stood with it in his hand, reflecting, and en- 
deavoring to recall all that he had heard or read concerning the various 
minerals. After a close examination, he became satisfied that what he held 
in his hand imast be one of three substances — mica, sulphurets of copper, or 
gold. The weight assured him that it was not mica. Could it be sulphuret 
of copper ? He remembered that that mineral is brittle, and that gold is 
malleable, and as this thought passed through his mind, he turned about, 
placed the specimen upon a flat stone, and proceeded to test it by striking it 
with another. The substance did not crack or flake off; it simply bent un- 
der the blows. This, then, was gold, and in this manner was the first gold 
found in California. 

If we were writing a sensation tale, instead of a sobre history, we might 
proceed to relate how Marshall sank, pale and breathless upon a neighbor- 
ing rock, and how, as he eyed the glittering metal in his hand, a vision rose 
before him of the mighty results of his discovery. But in fact nothing of 
the kind occurred. The discoverer was not one of the spasmodic and excita- 
ble kind, but a j^lain, shrewd, practical fellow, who realized the importance 
of the discovery — though doubtless not to its full extent, since no one did 
that then-^and proceeded with his work as usual, after showing the nugget 
to his men, and indulging in a few conjectures concerning the probable extent 
of the gold fields. As a matter of course he watched closely from time to 
timC; for further developments, and in the course of a few days had collected 
several ounces of the precious metal. Although, however, he was satisfied 
in his own mind that it was gold, there were some who were skeptical, and 
as he had no means of testing it chemically, he determined to take some down 
to his partner at the fort, and have the question finally decided. Some four 
days after the discovery it became necessary for him to go below, for Sutter 
had failed to send a supply of provisions to the mill, and the men were on 
short commons. So mounting his horse, and taking some three ounces of 
gold dust with him, he started. Having always an eye to business, he 
availed himself of this opportunity to examine the river for a site for a lum- 
ber yard, whence the timber cut at the mill could be floated down; and 
while exploring for this purpose he discovered gold in a ravine in the foot- 
hills, and also at the place known afterwards as Mormon island. That 
night he slept under an oak tree, some eight or ten miles east of the fort, 
where he arrived about nine o'clock the next morning. Dismounting from 
his horse, he entered Sutter's private office, and proceeded to enquire into the 
cause of the delay in sending up the provisions. Ihis matter having been 
explained, and the teams bemg in a fair way to load, he asked for a few 
minutes' private conversation with Colonel Sutter, and the two entered a. 


little room at the back of the store, reserved as a private office. Then 
Marshall showed him the gold. He looked at it in astonishment, and, still 
doubting, asked what it was. His visitor replied that it was gold. ' Impos- 
sible ! ' was the incredulous ejaculation of Sutter. Upon this ^Marshall 
asked for some nitric acid, to test it, and a vaquero having been despatched 
to the gunsmith's for that purpose, Sutter enquired whether there was no 
other way in which it could be tested. He W'as told tliat its character 
might be ascertained by weighing it, and accordingly some silver coin — §3.25, 
was all the fort could furnish — and a pair of small scales or balances having 
been obtained, Marshall proceeded to weigh the dust, first in the air, and 
then in two bowb of water. The experiment resulted as he had foreieen. 
The du3t went down; the coin rose lightly up. Sutter gazed, and his doubts 
faded, and a sul)sequent test with the nitric acid, which by this time had ar- 
rived, settled the question finally. Then the excitement began to spread. 
Sutter knew well the value of the discovery, and in a short time, having 
made hurried arrangements at the fort, he returned with Marshall to 
Coloma, to see for himself the wonder that had been reported to him. 

Here is what purports to be a verbatim relation by 
Sutter to J. Tyrwhitt Brooks, quite different and in 
many places contradictory to that given by him to 
others. One can easily imagine how Sutter himself 
might change his story in its several narrations accord- 
ing to humor and audience: 

I was sitting one afternoon, said the captain, just after my siesta, engaged 
by-the-by, in writing a letter to a relation of mine at Lucerne, when I was 
interrupted by Mr Marshall — a gentleman with wh(ma I had frequent bu.::ne::s 
transactions — bursting Imrriedly into the room. From the unusual agitation 
in his manner I imagined that something serious had occurred, and, as we 
involuntarily do in this part of the world, I at once glanced to see if my rifle 
was in its proper place. You sliould know that the mere appearance of iMr 
iMar.jhall at that moment in the fort was quite enough to surprise me, as he, but two days before, left tb.e place to make some alterations in a mill 
for sawing pine plank ^ which he liad just run up for me, some miles higher 
up the Americanos. When he had recovered himself a little, he told me tliat 
however great my sur2>ri;;e might be at his unexpected reappearance, it would 
be much greater wlien I heard the intelligence he hatl come to Ijring me. 
'Intelligence ' he added, 'which, if properly profited by, would put both of 
U3 in possession of unheard of wealth — millions and millions of dollars, in 
fact.' I frankly own, when I heard this, that I thought something had 
t;)uched Marshall's brain, when suddenly all my misgivings were put to an end 
by his flinging on the table a handful of scales of pure virgin gold. I was 
fairly thunderstruck, and a:jkcd him to explain what all this meant, when he 
went on to say, that according to my instructions, he had thrown the mill- 
wheel out of gear, to let the whole body of the water in the dam find a pas- 
sage through tl:e tail-race, which was previously too narrow for the water to 
run off in sufficient quantity, whereby the wheel was prevented from effi- 
ciently performing its work. By this alteration the narrow channel was con- 
siderably enlarged, and a mass of sand and gravel carried off by the force of the 
torrent. Early in the morning after this took place, he — Mr Marshall — was 
walking along tlie left bank of the stream, when he perceived something which 
he at first took for a piece of opal— a clear, transparent stone, very common here 
— glittering on one of the spots laid bare by tb.e sudden crumbling away of the 
bank. He paid no attention to this ; but while he was giving directions to the 
workmen, liaving observed several similar glittering fragments, his curiosity 
was so far excited, that he stooped down and picked one of them up. ' Do you 


know,' said Marshall to me, ' I positively debated within myself two or three 
times, whether I should take the trouble to bend my back to jjick up one of 
the pieces, and had decided on not doing so, when, further on, another glit- 
tering morsel caught my eye — the largest of tlie pieces now before you. I 
condescended to pick it up, and to my astonishment found that it was a thin 
scale of what appears to be pure gold. ' He then gathered some twenty or 
thirty similar pieces, which on examination convinced him that his supposi- 
tions were right. His first impression was that this gold had been lost or 
buried there by some early Indian tribe — perhaps some of those mysterious 
inhabitants of the west, of whom we have no account, but who dwelt on this 
continent centuries ago, and built those cities and temples, the ruins of which 
are scattered about these solitary wilds. On proceeding, however, to examine 
the neighboring soil, he discovered that it v;as more or less auriferous. This 
at once decided him. He mounted his horse and rode down to me as fast as 
it would carry him, with the news. At the conclusion of Mr Marshall's ac- 
count, continued Captain Sutter, and when I had convinced myself, from 
the specimens he had brought with him, that it was not exaggerated, I felt 
as much excited as himself. I eagerly enquired if he had shown the gold to 
the work-people at the mill, and was glad to hear that he had not spoken to a 
single person about it. We agreed, said the captain, smihng, not to men- 
tion the circumstance to anyone, and arranged to set ofiF early the next day 
for the mill. On our arrival, just before sundown, we poked the sand about 
in various places, and before long succeeded in collecting between us more 
than an ounce of gold, mixed up with a good deal of sand. I stayed at Mr 
Marshall's that night, and the next day we proceeded some little distance up 
the south fork, and found that gold existed along the whole course; not only 
in the bed of the main stream, where the water had subsided, but in every 
libtle dried-up creek and ravine. Indeed, I think it is more plentiful in these 
latter places, for I, myself, with nothing more than a small knife, picked out 
from a dry gorge, a little way up the mountain, a solid lump of gold which 
weighed nearly an ounce and a laalf. On our return to the mill, we were 
astonished by the work-people coming up to us in a body, and showing us 
small flakes of gold similar to those we had ourselves procured. Marshall 
tried to laugh the matter off with them, and to persuade them that what 
they had found was only some shining mineral of trifling value; but one of 
the Indians, who had worked at the gold mine in the neighborhood of La 
Paz, in Lower California, cried out 'oro! oro!' We were disappointed enough 
at this discovery, and supposed that the work-people had been watching our 
movements, aUhough we thought we had taken every precaution against 
being observed by them. I heard afterwards that one of them, a sly Ken- 
tuckian, had dogged us about, and that, looking on the ground to see if he 
could discover what we were in search of, had lighted on some flakes of gold 

The following is an account taken by Mary P. 
Winslow, in December 1874, from Mrs Wiemer, who, 
with her husband, was then in San Francisco seeking 
relief from the society of Pioneers. The writer 
speaks of Mrs Wiemer as a fine large woman of some 
sixty summers, with an intelligent kindly face. 

We arrived here November 1846, with a party of fourteen families, across 
the plains from Missouri. On arriving at Sutter's fort, Sacramento, we 
found FremoTit in need of more men. My husband enlisted before we had 
got the oxen unyoked, and left me and seven children at the fort in the care 
of Commissary Currin. We drew our rations like common soldiers for four 
months. Captain Sutter arranged a room for us in the fort. As soon as 
Mr Wiemer returned from Santa Clara, where he had been stationed during 


the winter, lie joined three others and went over the mountains to what is 
now called Donner lake to fetch over the effects of the Donner family, 
after that terrible winter of sviffering that you have heaid about. In June 
1847 they loaded all our household plunder for Battle creek, up on the 
Sacramento, to put up a saw-mill, but they changed their plans and went to 
Coloma. Cc-ptam Sutter and J. W. Marshall were equal partners and were 
the head of the expedition. After seven days of travel, we arrived at sun- 
down a mile above the town. Next morning Mr Wiemer went out to select 
a site for the saw-mill, and I, a site for the house. He was to oversee the 
Indians, be a handy man about, and I was to be cook. We had from fifteen 
to twenty men employed. • 

' But you had some help from the Indians, didn't you ? ' asked the writer. 
' Oh no, except to scratch out the pots and sweep out the dirt floors. We 
soon had a log house, a good log house, and a log heap to cook by. ' 

They had been working on the mill-race, dam, and mill about six months, 
when, one morning along the last days of December or the first week of 
January, 1847-8, after an absence of several days to the fort (that was our 
San Francisco in those days) Mr Marshall took Mr Wiemer and went down 
to see what had been done while he was away. The water was entirely shut 
off and, as they walked along, talking and examining the work, just ahead 
of them, on a little, rough, muddy rock, lay something looking bright, like 
gold. They both saw it, but Mr Marshall was the first to stoop to pick it 
up, and, as he looked at it, doubted its being gold. Our little son Martin 
was along with them, and Mr Marshall gave it to him to bring up to me. 
He came in a hurry and said: * Here, mother, here is something Mr Mar- 
shall and pa found, and they want you to put it into salaratus Avater to 
see if it will tarnish.' I said, 'This is gold, and I will throw it into my 
lye kettle, which I had just tried with a feather, and if it is gold, it will be 
gold when its comes out. ' I finished off my soap that day and set it off to 
cool, and it stayed there till next morning. At the breakfast table one of 
the work hands raised up his head from eating and said, 'I heard some- 
thing about gold being discovered, what about it ? ' Mr Marshall told him 
to ask Jenny, and I told him it was in my soap kettle. Mr Marshall said it 
was there if it had not gone back to California. A plank was brought for 
me to lay my soap onto, and I cut it in chunks, but it was not to be found. 
At the bottom of the pot was a double handful of potash, which I lifted in 
my two hands, and there was my gold as bright as it could be. Mr Mar- 
shall still contended it was not gold, but whether he was afraid his men 
would leave him or he really thought so I don't know. Mr Wiemer re- 
marked that it looked like gold, weighed heavy and would do to make money 
out of. The men promised not to leave till the mill was finished. Not be- 
ing sure it was gold, Mr Wiemer urged Mr Marshall to go to the fort and 
have it tested. He did so, and George McKinstry, an assayer, pronounced 
it gold. Captain Sutter came right up with Mr Marshall and called all the 
Indians together, and agreed with them to certain boundaries that they 
claimed, and on the right of discovery demanded thirty per cent of all gold 
taken out. They in payment were to give the Indians a certain number of 
handkerchiefs, pocket-knives, looking-glasses, shirts, beads, and other 

' Mrs Weimer will you be kind enough to tell me how you came in posses- 
sion of this piece of gold.' 

' Yes; it was just this way; one day Mr Marshall was packing up to 
go away. He had gathered together a good deal of dust on the thirty per 
cent business, and had it buried under the floor. In overhauling his traps, 
he said to me in the presence of Elisha Packwood, ' Jenny, I will give you 
this piece of gold. I always intended to have a ring made from it for my 
mother, but I will give it to you.' I took it and have had it in my posses- 
sion from that day to this. ' You have not the exact date of the discovery 
of gold?' 'No, but it was somewhere about the holidays, for I know that 
Captain Sutter had sent up to me a dozen bottles of brandy, six for the men 


and six for me. ' The piece of gold I must describe. Its value is between 
four and five dollars. It looks like a piece of spruce gum just out of the 
mouth of a school-girl, except the color. It is rather fiat, full of indenta- 
tions, just as the teeth make in a piece of nice gum. There are one or two 
rough points on the edge, which, with a little stretch of the imagination, 
gives the appearance of a man's head with a helmet on; then, turn it an- 
other way, and, as Mrs Wiemer said, 'it looks like some kind of varmint 
or other. ' It can easily be identified by any one who has ever seen it before. 
Other accounts of secondary importance are given by Barstow, Sherman, 
Mason, Bidwell, the Annih of San Francisco, the R'lpresentaUve Men of the 
Pacific, Tu thill, Hittell, Dunbar, Woods, and a multitude of newspaper 

Going back to Bigler's diary I find it of interest to 
follow him for a few days after the discovery. 

The men hastened the work at the mill, so as to 
keep by their promise with Sutter, and be sooner able 
to dig for gold ; and though some spoke of throwing 
up their employment, yet the fear that the mines 
were not rich deterred them. On Sundays, however, 
they went into the tail-race, and scratching about 
with their butcher knives frequently obtained from 
three to eight dollars. The first gold discovery be- 
yond the limits of the Colonia saw-mill was on Sun- 
day, the 6th of February. Early that morning Bigler 
said he would cross the stream and try the bare rocks 
facing the saw-mill; Barger said he would go with 
him, and the two started, taking only their knives. 
Up to this tune none of the mill hands knew the 
simple process of washing, nor had they ever seen 
rockers; the way they gathered the gold was to pick 
it up grain by grain as it lay on the rocks, or with 
their knives dig it out from the crevices and holes. 
On this Sunday Bigler secured ten dollars. For de- 
termining the value of gold-dust, he made a light pair 
of wooden scales ; and by balancing twelve and a half 
cents in silver with gold-dust, he formed a ratio of one 
bit to two dollars, twenty-five cents to four dollars, 
and so on. Bigler seems to have been the only one 
who was seriously affected by the news of the gold 
discovery. Not content to wait till the next Sunday, 
he on Saturday afternoon threw down his pick, for he 
with Brown and others were digging at the race, and 

^^^F^AT bigler did. 77 

broke out, "I say, Brown, let us have your gun, I 
want to shoot some ducks." Brown told hmi to take 
it, and Bigler left them. As he walked along the 
river banks he kept thinking of gold ; and when about 
half a mile below the mill he fancied that on the op- 
posite side of the stream the rocks looked similar to 
the one whereon he had found gold the previous Sun- 
day. They were bare, and it also seemed that there 
had formerly been a slide ; so taking off his clothes 
he waded over, and found the ground glistening with 
golden dust. The next day was rainy, so the men 
remained within doors ; but Bigler, without saying a 
word to any one, started down the river, crossed over 
to the same rocks, and obtained eight dollars. On 
the following Sunday, still keeping his own counsel, 
he went to the same spot and picked up a little over 
an ounce and a half All through the next week he 
worked steadily at the mill; ''but about this gold, if 
there was anything in it," he asked himself, "should 
not the brethren elsewhere know of it ? " So he wrote 
of it to Jesse Martin, Israel Evans, and Ephraim 
Green, three of his former messmates in the Mormon 
battalion, then at the flouring-mill, but asked ther^ 
not to mention it to any one, unless to those in whom 
they could trust. On Tuesday, the 2 2d of February, 
a fall of snow stopped work, and while the men were 
at breakfast Marshall walked into the cabin and said, 
''Boys, it is going to be slippery to-day," pointing to 
the upper story of the saw-mill, * which had to be 
raised, "and rather bad about putting up the frame; 
you may work if you see fit, or let it alone." The 
men were glad to take a holiday, and each one had an 
excuse. Alick Stevens declared he wanted to mend 
his trousers ; Brown thought he would prepare a dish 
of peas; and Bigler, who was present, said to Brown, 
"If you will let me have your gun, I will go and 
shoot deer." "Take it," was the reply. Bigler 
started, and climbing a hillock a little to the Avest of 
the mill, looked about as hunters do before choosing 


their course. His eye glancing clown the river fell 
upoii the rocks where he had twice found gold. II r 
hesitated for a moment, then turned to the rigl 
made for the river, and was soon opposite his favori; 
place. The late rains had swolkn the stream, and 
the water was ver}' cold. This did not deter him, for 
undressing and carrying his gun and clothes, he wadt'<l 
over ; but when he reached the opposite bank he was 
so benumbed that he could not work. He tried to 
light a fire, but his finij^crs refused to hold the flint 
and steel. He then tried to catch fire from his gun, 
a cap-lock, but while in the water the charge had got 
wet. The only way left was to run and jump ; and 
the most exasperating part of it was that right before 
him, staring him in the face, was what he sought, and 
f )r which he had braved the danger of deadly cramps, 
but which now he was powerless to grasp. Snow had 
fallen; the day was cloudy, and the mists heavy. C)]i 
the bare rock the snow soon melted ; in the crevicus 
and deep places it remained. As soon as he became 
a little warm, Bigler set himself to work, first search- 
ing the upper rocks, thence slowly working his way 
down to the water's edge, where it was so plentiful 
that he spent the remainder of the day picking it up, 
grain by grain, from the tiniest speck to the lump 
worth over five dollars. As he dug out the gold, he 
put it in his cap. The labor was so engrossing that 
night came on before he was aware of it. As he 
arose, and tried to straighten himself, he cried out 
with pain. He thought his back was broken; and 
without recrossing the river, he made his way along 
the bank, until when opposite the dam, he called for 
Brown to bring over the raft. 

Meanwhile the suspicions of his comrades had been 
aroused, and no sooner had he reached the cabin than 
they began to question him. Why had he crossed 
the river ? Or if he wished to hunt on that side why 
had he not crossed it in the mornintr ? It was no use 
trymg to deceive them further, nor was Bigler in the 


tumor for it. Drawing the rag in which the gold 
was wrapped from his pocket — "No," exclaims the 
narrator parenthetically ''not that exactly either; 
I will tell the truth Mr Bancroft ; I had tied it up 
for safe-keeping in the corner of my shirt," — he showed 
it to his friends. They took it from him, weighed it, 
and found that he had gathered a little short of an 
ounce and a half There was no further secret dig- 
ging for Bigler, for on the next Sunday, the 27th of 
February, five others determined to accompany him ; 
and they spent the day, lying prostrate with their 
faces to the ground, scratching and limiting for the 
precious particles. 

That night arrived from below three of the Mormon 
boys, Fiefield. Sidney Willis, and Wilford Hudson, 
with their guns and blankets on their backs. It ap- 
pears the secret written to Martin, Green, and Evans, 
was told, for easier keeping, to other three, who find- 
ing it heavy, started at once for the saw-mill, saying 
to their companions that they were going on a visit, 
and for a few days' shooting. Marshall happened to 
be in the house when they arrived, and instead ot 
being offended at Bigler's faithlessness, talked good 
humoredly about their prospects till a late hour, and 
gave Hudson permission to dig in the tail-race. 
Therefore early next morning the three went thither, 
and not long after Hudson picked up a lump worth 
about six dollars. On Thursday, the 2d of 
!Marcli, the Mormons took their departure for the 
flouring-mill, Willis and Hudson following the river 
to look for gold, and Fiefield, accompanied by Bigler, 
going by the road. 

All four met at the fl(^uring-mill. All the way 
down the river, though passing over some of the rich- 
est deposits, Willis and Hudson gathered only fifty 
cents ; and so disgusted were they that they refused 
to have anything more to do with the business, 
though urged by their friends, who volunteered to go 
back with them. Bigler, however, returned to 


Coloma, where nothing of note occurred till Sunday, 
the 11th of March, when Marshall started the saw- 
mill running. The following week was spent in deep- 
ening the fall in the tail-race ; but on Sunday all went 
gold-digging, when Bigler secured two ounces. About 
this time Bigler took charge of the Indians, teach- 
ing them to saw and chop wood. Though anxious 
enough to learn, they were extremely awkward, and 
were continually hurting or cutting themselves. He 
worked in this manner until Friday, the 7th of April, 
when he, Stevens, and Brown, started for the fort 
to have a settlement with Sutter, and to tell him 
that they wished to leave for Salt Lake. On the 
evening of the next day they arrived at the flouring- 
mill, and found the place well-nigh deserted. They 
were told that Willis and Hudson, with others, were 
up the river getting gold. Bigler stayed over Sunday 
at the flouring-miii to make arrangements as to what 
they should buy of Sutter for their intended journey. 
Those present agreed to send in advance a few men 
to pioneer a route across the Sierra, the main body to 
be in readiness to start in the beginning of June, with 
the exception of eight men who were to leave the fol- 
lowing Saturday with an express for the States. Next 
day Bigler and his friends started for the fort with 
Browett who was to act as spokesman, but were una- 
ble to see Sutter, or buy the seeds, cattle, horses, and 
tv/o brass cannon they wished. On Tuesday they 
left the fort for home, intending to turn their atten- 
tion for the rest of their stay to gold-digging. As 
they could not make the journey in a day, they en- 
camped for the night at a creek fifteen miles from the 
flouring-mill, and next morning Bigler, whose mind 
was running in one direction, began to look for gold; 
and he and his four companions soon found about ten 
dollars. As Willis and Hudson were not far away, 
they determined to look them up and see what success 
had attended them ; so keeping close to the river they 
soon came across them, at what afterward was called 


Mormon island. Five persons, Ira Willis, Jesse B. 
Martin, Ephraim Green, Israel Evans, together with 
Hudson and Sidney Willis, were at work, and had, on 
that day, obtained two hundred and fifty dollars. 
Bigler here noticed an improvement in mining, for one 
cr two of the Mormons had Indian baskets, and were 
able in a short time to wash out from twenty-five 
cents to two dollars. 

Bigler arrived at Coloma on the 13th, and from 
that date he and his friends began mining. It was 
hard work, for the only tools they had were their 
knives. He tried to get an Indian basket, but none 
were available ; and so had to use a tray on which he 
kneeded dough to serve as a washer, while Alick 
Stevens did good service with his wooden wash-bowl. 
There was only one tin pan, about the size of an 
eight quart basin, among all the miners ; so they had 
to carry the dirt in sacks from the dry gulches, a mile 
below the mill, to the river, some five to six hun- 
dred yards distant, and there wash and separate the 
gold. In less than three weeks after Bigler's arrival 
at the saw-mill the great rush to the mines took place, 
and soon the little gulches were thronged with eager 
gold-seekers, who disputed Marshall's claim to the land, 
and dug where they pleased. Among the strangers 
was an old Sonoran who was evidently a miner. He 
dug a hole and filled it with water. Then he fitted 
into it a cotton sheet, into which he shovelled dirt, 
which the water dissolved, leaving the gold sticking 
to the cloth. Bigler and Brown then tried the same 
method, but with partial success. 

It was at this juncture, the middle of June 1848, 
that Bigler, and many others of the Mormon battal- 
ion, turned their faces toward the new city of the 
saints. None tell us how hard it was for them to 
leave the fascinations of the gold fields for the distant 
desert, or whether it was hard at all. But it is very 
certain that there were few in the canons of the 

Cal. Int. Poc. 6 


Sierra foothills who would then have turned their 
back on Mammon for the service of any other god. 

After this the world came flocking in. The region 
round Marshall's mill soon swarmed with gold-seekers. 
Two thousand diggers were at work there, with knives, 
picks, shovels, sticks, tin pans, wooden bowls, willow 
baskets, and cradles, picking crevices, scraping rocky- 
beds, riddling gravelly sand, and washing dirt for the 
metal. Shortly after there were some four thousand 
upon the ground, if we include natives, who were 
mostly employed by white men. It was then dis- 
covered that all about in the vicinity of Marshall's 
mill gold abounded. Virgin placers were found on 
Feather river, on Deer creek, on Yuba river. New 
discoveries followed in quick succession, each adding 
fuel to the flame. Every gulch and ravine was pros- 
pected, and there was scarcely a spot where gold was 
not, though not always in paying quantiti'^s. Finally 
the fact became apparent that all along the base of 
the Sierra, on every affluent of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin, from one end of the great valley of 
California to the other, almost every rivulet, gulch, 
and canon was rich in gold. 

"Some fifty thousand persons," writes one who 
deals largely in exaggeration, on the 8th of Novem- 
ber, 1848: "are drifting up and down the slopes of 
the great Sierra, of every hue, language, and clime, 
tumultuous and confused as a flock of wild geese tak- 
iag wing at the crack of a gun, or autumnal leaves 
strewn on the atmospheric tide by the breath of the 
whirlwind. All are in search of gold ; and, with eyes 
diluted to the circle of the moon, rush this way and 
that as some new discovery, or fictitious tale of suc- 
cess may suggest." Says another in a letter to the 
New York Journal of Commierce, from Monterey under 
date of August 29, 1848, "At present the people are 
running over the country and picking it out of the 
earth here and there, just as a thousand hogs let 


loose in a forest would root up ground nuts. Some 
get eight or ten ounces a day, and the least active one 
or two. They make most who employ the wild In- 
dians to hunt it for them. There is one man who has 
sixty Indians in his employ ; his profits are a dollar a 
minute. The wild Indians know .nothing of its value, 
and wonder what the pale faces want to do with it ; 
and they will give an ounce of it for the same weight 
of coined silver, or a thimbleful of glass beads, or a 
glass of grog. And white men themselves often give 
an ounce of it, which is worth at our mint eighteen 
dollars or more, for a bottle of brandy, a bottle oP 
soda powders, or a plug of tobacco." 

Then streams began to form in every quarter; in- 
land streams and ocean currents, social tricklhigs and 
oozings from scattered and far distant homes, gather- 
ing into rivulets, and expand hig into human rivers, 
increasing in strength and volume as they neared 
that worshipful gold. Bands of devotees were organ- 
ized for pilgrimages, in which Christendom and 
pagandom might join alike, in which all the sons of 
men might join and bow before one common shrine. 

In vain we search the annals of mankind for a 
similar flocking. The nearest akin to it were the 
Christian crusades made in the ninth century, and 
subsequently, for the recovery from profane hands ot 
the tomb of Christ — wild fanaticism, folly incredible, 
yet under providence working out for civilization the 
grandest results, bringing together antagonistic socie- 
ties, forcing oppugnant elements to coalesce, and melt- 
ing and moulding humanity into more useful and 
comelier forms. But the world was smaller then 
than now, and although the numbers were large they 
comprised comparatively few nationalities, and the dis- 
tance travelled was less. In the nineteenth century 
there were cosmopolitan crusades for gold wherewith 
to make rich the finder, and add volume to the world's 
circulating medium. Was the gold sought in these 
modern pilgrimages essential to human well-being, 


as appeared to be the quasi possession of Christ ^s 
sepulchre ? The central idea of the Christian cru- 
sades was fanaticism ; that of the Plutonic crusades 
was avarice. Which is better or worse, which has 
done the more for or against human progress, is not 
here a point of discussion. The question is, whether 
gold is more valuable than religion, or avarice a 
nobler passion than fanaticism ? Has the world then 
grown no wiser nor more sober iu ten centuries ? Yet 
as in the mediaeval crusades great benefits from great 
evils came, so in the latter-day crusades for gold, good 
will come of them; but the great good God there- 
from designed for man, California has yet to tell. 

First those nearest at hand felt the subtle influence. 
The ox-team of the emigrant turned toward Coloma ; 
the trapper left his peltries, and the ranchero his herds, 
curious to see what this thing should mean. The 
excitement was felt by the devoted Mormons, 
some of whom attempted a small settlement on the 
Stanislaus, which they called New Hope, and immedi- 
ately they were reconciled to digging gold as if by gen- 
eral agreement. Sutter was nearly ruined by the dis- 
covery. On the instant his laborers deserted him 
almost to a man, leaving: a mill unfinished, and all his 
property exposed to the depredations of the rabble, 
which were more serious than those of the natives 
had ever been. They drove off his cattle, squatted 
on his land, and then combined and beat him in the 
courts, when courts were established. Marshall was 
swept away by the tide. 

Immediately following the discovery, most of the 
provisions for the mines were obtained at Sutter's fort ; 
then traders went to Sonoma for supplies. One would 
think that these early settlers, with leagues of land 
and thousands of horses and cattle, and of native la- 
borers, should have reaped a harvest from the gold 
crop. And so they did, most of them, at first, but so 
strange and unprecedented was it all to them that 
they became bewildered ; gold poured in upon them 


SO freely that it seemed as if it would never be want- 
ing again. Between the embarcadero and the fort, 
*' boatmen were shouting and swearing; waggoners 
were whistling and hallooing, and cracking their whips 
at their straining horses, as they toiled along with 
heavily laden wagons to the different stores within 
the building ; groups of horsemen were riding to and 
fro, and crowds of people were moving about on foot. 
It was evident the gold mania increased in force as 
the eagerly longed-for El Dorado was approached. 
Every store and shed was being crammed with bales 
of goods, barrels of flour, and a thousand other things 
for which a demand had suddenly sprung up. The 
captain's own house was like a hotel crowded with 
more visitors than it could accommodate." 

The incomers could not obtain accommodations 
within the fort, and were obliged to content themselves 
with camping outside. "It was not easy to pick our 
way through the crowds of strange people who were 
moving backwards and forwards in every direction," 
says one who was present. ''Carts were passing to 
and fro ; groups of Indians squatting on their haunches 
were chattering together, and displaying to one an- 
other the flaring red and yellow handkerchiefs, the 
scarlet blankets, and muskets of the most worthless 
Brummagem make, for which they had been exchang- 
ing their bits of gold. Inside the stores the bustle 
and noise were even greater. Some half a dozen 
sharp- visaged Yankees, in straw hats and loose frocks, 
were driving hard bargains for dollars with the crowd 
of customers who were continually pouring in to bar- 
ter a portion of their stock of gold for coflee and to- 
bacco, breadstufl*, brandy, and bowie-knives. Of 
spades and mattocks there were none to be had. In 
one corner, at a railed-ofl" desk, a quick-eyed old man 
was busily engaged with weights and scales, setting 
his own value on the lumps of golden ore or the bags 
of dust which were being handed over to him, and in 
exchange for which he told out the estimated quantity 


of dollars. These dollars quickly returned to the 
origmal deposit, in payment for goods bought at the 
other end of the store." 

Owing to the scarcity of coin, gold-dust did not 
bring over two thirds of its real value. On the fourth 
of June, Mormon island and its approaches presented 
scenes of the greatest excitement. A numerous cara- 
van was moving along toward the no longer ridiculed 
El Dorado. 

In July, Colonel Mason, then military governor of 
California, visited Coloma, and found Marshall livmg 
near the mill, while there were many persons at work 
on the river above and below him. Crossing over to 
a stream, since known as Weber creek, three or four 
miles below the mill, he found at work one Suiiol, 
with about thirty employed natives, who received their 
pay in merchandise. Eight miles above was a large 
number of whites and Indians, some working in the 
river bed, and others in the small valleys. These 
latter were exceedingly rich, two ounces being consid- 
ered the average yield for a day's work. In a small 
gutter, not more than a hundred yards long by four 
feet wide and two or three feet deep, two men had 
shortly before obtained $17,000 worth of gold. An- 
other small ravine had yielded $12,000, and on every 
side there were hundreds of such. 

The poor natives gathered round to pick up a few 
crumbs of civilization, and with a new money buy new 
comforts to supply new wants. Gold-dust by the 
bushel had been within their reach for ages ; but with- 
out the conventional value placed upon it by the cun- 
ning of progress, it was of no use to them. Now, de- 
prived of their natural resources, they herded about the 
mining camps, being permitted occasionally by the 
kinder-hearted miners to wash a pan of dirt from their 
claims, or to sweep the sluice-boxes. Frequently they 
obtained quite a little quantity of gold on the rivers 
by scraphig the crevices of claims abandoned by the 
white men. Even in the days of their degeneration, 


the men maintained their lordly dignity, and left all 
the gold-digging to the women. These obtained 
sometimes two or three dollars a day each, and with 
the proceeds of their labor they bought food and 

One would think that with thousands of acres of 
valuable land stocked by immense herds, with gardens 
and orchards and fields of grain, the influx of a vast 
gold-producing and agricultural population, requiring 
food and farms, would have made the great grant- 
holders monarchs of wealth and industry. But such 
was not the result. The old Mexican-Californians 
hereupon proved themselves a community of children. 
No sooner was the discovery of gold announced than 
hired laborers, mechanics, herders, and retainers 
dropped their implements, abandoned their trust, and 
rushed for the mines. No amount of money which 
the landed proprietor could offer was suflficient to 
hold them. Thus left defenceless, he was overrun by 
swarms of adventurers, who drove off his cattle, shot 
his Indians, and took possession of his ground. 

Even the SQdate gente de razon caught the infec- 
tion, and taking with them their servants and retain- 
ers, hastened to the mines, and selecting a favorable 
spot, put their men at work, while they sat in their 
tents in state, or strutted about from camp to camp, 
or louno-ed down amon^r the boulders. The relations 
of man and master, however, were soon severed in 
the mines, the one casting off old ties and and affec- 
tions and setting up for himself, and the other return- 
ing home to mourn to the end of his days over the 
rapacity of the Yankees, and his loss of opportunity 
and loss of property, which, after all, were due for the 
most part to himself. 

The soldiers in the service of the United States 
were also seized with the gold fever, and abandoning 
their posts, ran off* to the placers. It was almost 
impossible to retain crews on their ships. The pioneer 
steamship, California, on her first voyage lost all her 


crew; and in order to return to Panama had to en- 
gage men at enormous wages. Thus, while her com- 
mander, engaged by the owners in New York, was 
receiving $250 per month, the chief engineer and the 
black cook had $500 each, the firemen $250 each, and 
the seamen $200 per man. This state of things did 
not last long. The next steamship of the line anchored 
under the guns of the United States line-of-battle 
ship OhiOy and her men could not desert. 



I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon 
the earth. 

California, in 1848, stood on none of the world's 
highways. It was an isolated amphitheatre, a a^ alley 
on which the sun was ever setting, far away from civ- 
ilization and the homes of the gold- worshippers. On 
one side were seas of land, on the other seas of water. 
And the water and the land both were vast and bil- 
lowy, trackless, and often showing their hostility to 
man each after its fashion. One or the other of these 
seas of desolation, or their equivalent in obstacles, 
must be crossed before the dragon-guarded treasure 
could be touched. 

Now the journey to the mines, occupying as it did 
weeks or months, and being made by companies or 
aggregations of men, women, and children, called forth 
new phases of human conduct, no less than did life at the 
diggings. Two days out, whether on plain or ocean, 
and the pilgrim began to feel himself a new being, 
the chrysalis from which he had emerged being his 
late environs. The metal of which he was made was 
as yet scarcely recognizable, but the fire was a-kindling 
which should quickly determine it. Therefore it is 
proper to delineate and preserve characteristic sketches 
of overland and ocean travel to California during the 
flush times. 

And first as to travel overland. The prairie seas 
were not wholly unknown ; even the prairie schooner 



had navigated some portions of them. Since Cabeza 
de Vaca the Spanish castaway, Monchat Ape the 
learned savage, Lewis and Clarke, Fraser, Thompson, 
and the others first to traverse different localities, Ste- 
phen Long had ascended the southern branch of the 
Nebraska or Platte river to its source, and an overland 
trade had sprung up between the United States and 
Mexico. Ashley had ascended the north branch of 
the Platte, and had encamped near the head waters 
of the Colorado. 

The year following, 1824, Ashley continued his dis- 
coveries through the South pass to Great Salt Lake, 
built a fort in Utah valley and left there a hundred 
men. In 1826, a six-pounder cannon was drawn from 
Missouri 1200 miles through the wilderness, and 
planted within this fort. In 1827, many heavily laden 
wagons performed the same journey, penetrating far- 
ther westward ; among others, Mr Pilcher, who with 
forty-five men and a hundred horses crossed the Pocky 
Mountains by the South pass, wintered on the Colo- 
rado, and in the year following proceeded to Fort 
Colville, then recently established by the Hudson's 
Bay Company. From these and other points in the 
Great Basin, hundreds of trappers, traders, and emi- 
grants crossed the Sierra at the several passes between 
San Bernardino and Shasta, and descended into the 
valley of California. 

Smith, Jackson, and Sublette, able and enterprising 
men, continued the explorations of Ashley, and duriiig 
the years 1828 and 1829, they traversed the whole 
region between the Columbia river and the Tulare 
lakes, and down to the borders of the sea. Smith 
fell a prey to the savages, it will be remembered, in 
1829, after having twice crossed the continent to the 
Pacific ocean. In 1832 J. O. Pattie, a Missourian 
fur-hunter, published an account of his rambles 
through New Mexico, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Cali- 
fornia. He boated up and down the Colorado, crossed 
Sonora to the gulf of California, and thence to the 


Pacific. Captain Bonneville of the United States 
army, while on a furlough in 1832, with a hundred 
men and more than twenty wagons, achieved in the 
regions round the Colorado and Columbia many ad- 
ventures made thrilling and jocose by the facile pen 
of Irving Captain Wyeth, of Massachusetts, about 
this time entertained plans similar to those devised by 
John Jacob Astor in 1809, which were to concentrate 
the fur-trade of the United States, and establish unin- 
terrupted communication by means of a line of posts be- 
tween the Atlantic and the Pacific. Wyeth's project 
was to establish trading posts on the Pacific slope, 
and send thither manufactured goods, bring back furs 
and salmon, and also ship furs to China. To this 
end he made two overland expeditions to the Colum- 
bia, planted Fort Hall on Lewis river, north of Great 
Salt Lake about a hundred miles, and a fishing post on 
Wappatoo island, near the junction of the Willamette 
and Columbia rivers, and within a short distance of 
the coast. Then began emio^ration to flow into Ore- 
gon from the United States, as alone the eastern part- 
of our domain was then called: agriculturists and 
religious teachers, founded little colonies in the 
valley of the Willamette, and in the regions of Walla 
Walla and Spokane methodists and presbyterians 
opened schools, and Jesuits from Saint Louis, notable 
among whom were fathers De Smet, Mengarini, and 
Point, attempted the conversion of the natives. In 
1839, at Walla Walla, was set up the first printing 
press on the Pacific coast north of Mexico. Mean- 
while, notwithstanding the eflbrts of the Mexican au- 
thorities to prevent it, stragglers, — trappers, traders, 
and emigrants, — percolated through the mountains 
bounding California on the east, and trespassed on 
her lands. These intruders would sometimes engage 
themselves to work for the Californians, or to marry 
their daughters, and receive grants of land, cattle, and 
the catholic religion. A party of trappers from Mis- 
souri arrived at Fort Yuma in 1827, amon^^ which 


were some emigrants for California. The glowing 
stories of the fur-hunters concerning the beauty, fer- 
tility, and climate of California, between the years 
1825 and 1840, found here and there listeners who 
determined to make the venture. 

After all this comes John C. Fremont calling him- 
self explorer, and pathfinder, which latter truly he 
was, — finding the paths others had made rather than 
making them himself 

Three great emigrations, each three years apart, mark 
the exodus of the people inhabiting the frontier states, 
and the tide of overland travel westward to the slope 
oi the Pacific. The first was that to Oregon in 1843, 
some of which on nearing the Pacific turned ofi" and 
entered California, guided along the Humboldt by the 
famous mountaineer, Joe Walker. At this time many 
kept the Oregon trail as far as Fort Hall, or Fort 
Boise, on Lewis river, before branching off for Cali- 

The second was that to California in 1846, pending 
hostilities between the United States and Mexico. 
These adventurers were assured that California was 
a most delightful country, one every way desirable to 
settle in ; that it was thinly peopled, and except along 
the seaboard almost unoccupied; and that now the 
nation was roused to arms, engaged in a hand to hand 
conflict with a weaker power, which would probably 
result in the acquisition of all that territory by the 
stronger ; or at all events the United States could 
protect citizens settled on the Mexican frontier, if 
not, finally, they could protect themselves. This 
spirit and this emigration were encouraged, both by 
the government and by popular feeling. The result 
proved as had been anticipated; scarcely had the 
emigrants of 1846 arrived in the valley of California, 
when the whole magnificent domain fell a prize into 
the lap of the United States, and these hardy hunters, 
ox-drivers, and land-tillers, found themselves upon 


th6 spot just in time to reap a rich harvest. It was 
ill this year, and the year previous, that the Mor- 
mons, having been previously expelled from Nauvoo, 
Illinois, made their way out of the accursed land, and 
found an encampment at Council Bluff on the Mis- 
souri fiver, which was the rendezvous, or place of 
preparation for a further westward journey, a journey 
which should place the Rocky Mountains a barrier 
between them and the hated gentiles. 

The third great overland emigration was in the 
spring and summer of 1849, when Gold! was the 
watchword along the line, and Ho for the diggings! 
was painted on the canvas wagon-covers ; when ava- 
rice warmed the heart, and fired the brain, and steeled 
the sinews; when in the dreams of the ox-drivers 
wagon loads of yellow nuggets rolled out of rocky 
canons into pastures green as Arcadian vales, wherein 
the cattle might graze, and drink from the Pactolean 
streams that watered it. 

It was during the middle one of these great migra- 
tions that the Donner tragedy occurred. It was in 
1846 when a party attempted a new route from Fort 
Bridger, round the southern end of Great Salt Lake, 
and through the Truckee pass of the Sierra Nevada. 
The company was composed of George Donner, wife, 
and five children ; Jacob Donner, wife, and seven chil- 
dren; J. F. Reed, wife^ and four children; W. H. 
Eddy, Breen, Pike, Foster, and others, with women 
and children; in all about eighty souls. 

The journey across the plains under favorable con- 
ditions was by no means an unpleasant one. Though 
somewhat monotonous, it was capable of being made 
both healthful and pleasurable. Many a one who, 
reduced by disease, had set out upon this journey 
with little hope of ever reaching the end, arrived in 
California well and strong, like a man newly made; 
many a one, alas ! set out well and strong who met 
death ere his journey was completed. In company 


with others, some bound for Oregon and some for 
Cahfornia, the Donner party had a prosperous jour- 
ney from the Missouri, and passed the great divide 
in good health and spirits. The longer half of the 
journey was accomplished; the cattle were in good 
condition, and provisions abundant ; it was yet mid- 
summer, ample time thought they to escape the 
snows of the frowning Sierra. So, buoyant with an- 
ticipations of a speedy and prosperous termination of 
their travels, they arrived at Fort. Bridger, one hun- 
dred miles east of Salt Lake, on the 25th of July. 
It was their intention to have continued in the Oregon 
trail as far as Fort Hall, or beyond, before turning 
southward toward California, but they were induced 
to deviate from the usual route by L. W. Hastings, who 
assured them that he had found a way shorter and 
better than the old one, a cut-off it was called, the 
name referring to the route and not the travellers. 
Nor did Mr Hastings wilfully misrepresent matters 
as many charged him with doing, for his route was 
essentially the same as that taken by the emigration 
of 1849, and by the overland stage and railway. 

A. J. Grayson, the eminent ornithologist of Mexico 
and California, led a party of pioneers in this emigra- 
tion. He was accompanied by his young, devoted 
wife, and out of solicitude for her welfare, or other 
cause, he escaped two great dangers of the journey 
as by intuition. In a letter from San Francisco 
written February 22, 1847, speaking of Hastings and 
his route which was represented to be better and 250 
miles shorter than the old way, Mr Gray sen eays : 
'' This news created some excitement among the emi- 
grants ; some were for going the new route without 
reflecting, whilst the more prudent were for going by 
the old trail via Fort Hall. I for one consulted Cap- 
tain Walker, who happened to be at Fort Bridger 
and well acquainted with both routes, and also a man 
whom I could believe; so I took his advice and went 
by the old trail^ together with a respectable portion 


of emigrants." Arrived at Fort Hall there appeared 
another allurement in the shape of a cut-off. "Here 
we met with a Mr Applegate," continues Mr Gray- 
sen, "just from Oregon, who came that far to meet 
the emigration, and conducted them through a new 
route which he had discovered over the Cascade 
mountains to Oregon. This was good news to the 
emigrants, as it was represented as being a nearer and 
better route of course. This caused a good many to 
go to Oregon who were bound for California, as they 
thought they would reach there before they could 
California. But the nature of the route led me to 
believe it a very difficult one, if not impassable for 
wagons, which I have since learned was the case. 
This route continues on the California trail nearly to 
the California mountains, where it takes a north- 
west direction over two lofty ranges of mountains — 
the Cascade and the Umpqua." 

Resting three days at Fort Bridger, the Donner 
company turned their faces southward, passed Salt 
Lake, and on toward the Truckee river. But alas ! 
the farthest way round would have been the shortest 
way to their destination. Although this route Avas 
shorter and better than the other, it was then new, 
unbeaten, and often these emigrants were compelled 
to stop a day, or two days, sometimes eight days to 
explore, to cut away underbrush, to grade a bluff or 
bridge a marsh. Arriving at the southern end of 
Salt Lake they fell into the track of a company in 
advance of them, and so for a time made better pro- 
gress. But short was their sheen. At a place to 
which they gave the name Twenty Wells, they spent 
the night of September 6th. Some of the wells, 
which vary from six inches to nine feet in diameter, 
they sounded to a depth of seventy feet and found no 
bottom. After a hard day's drive, the next evening 
they encamped in a beautiful meadow covered with 
luxuriant grass, and where were natural wells like 
the others, Upon a split stick conspicuously placed 


they found a letter from Hastings, who had gone 
before, saying that between this point and the 
next water were two days and nights of hard driving ; 
so they rested the next day and refreshed themselves. 
Cutting grass for the cattle, and laying in a supply 
of water for the two days' desert, the Great Salt 
Lake plain they called it, at daylight on the morning 
of September 9th they broke camp. 

It was a dangerous thing to do, to cast themselves, 
their wives and little ones, their cattle and all their 
belongings, into an unknown desert where they had 
been assured that with no mishaps, and by straight 
and hard driving, there were two days between them 
and water; but there was now no help for it. The 
result proved most disastrous. The third day, at 
noon, Eddy and some others, with their cattle, suc- 
ceeded in reaching a spring seventy-five miles distant 
from the last wells, but they were obliged to leave 
their wagons twenty miles behind. About dark Reed 
came up, and stated that the rest of the wagons were 
forty miles behind, and that the fainting cattle were 
being urged forward to the water by the drivers. 
Reed and Eddy immediately started back, the latter 
with a bucket of water, which he carried five miles for 
a prostrate ox. Reed met his cattle with their drivers 
ten miles back, and went on to assist the Donners ; 
but Reed's cattle all died before they reached water. 
It was not until the evening of the 15th that all ar- 
rived in camp, having left many of their wagons scat- 
tered along the track, and half their animals dead. 

Affairs now began to look serious. Some families 
were completely ruined; dread forebodings began to 
arise in the minds of all. With the ill-fated desert 
behind them they could not retreat ; before them the 
way was dark and uncertain. The surviving cattle 
were exhausted, and the woodwork of the wagons 
shrank in the dry air until the spokes rattled in the 
wheels, and the tires seemed ready to fall off. Tak- 
ing the cows and all loose animals, feeble and dis- 


heartened they continued their way, but were soon 
obliged to bury a portion of their property. That 
day the}^ encountered an ominous snow-storm, and 
made but six miles; the next day they passed over 
some low mountains, and encamped in a well-watered 
valley. October 1st saw them slowly travelling along 
down Ogden river. 

And now begins a tale whose sickening details blot 
pages of our annals ; a tale before which I would 
gladly close my eyes and lay down my pen ; a tale 
which calls in question whether indeed there be in 
man, left to himself, any divine spark, any innate 
good. More bloody than beasts, more insane than 
demons, these human castaways in a desert wilder- 
ness, surrounded by their wives and children, first 
shot at by savages as they pass along, fall to fighting 
among themselves. Some oxen becoming unruly, two 
teams are entangled, whereupon the drivers swear; 
then one of them threatens to thrash the owner, and 
dealing him a heavy blow with the butt end of his 
whip, receives in return a stab which stretches him 
dead upon the plain. Reed, who does the killing, 
though regretfully and in self-defence, is driven from 
the camp. Thereupon he marches on before the oth- 
ers, dodging the arrows of the savages and giving the 
company warning of impending attacks, and thus 
passes over the mountains into California. Continu- 
ing their way, an old, worn-out man, whose feet had 
swollen to bursting, is left behind to *die. In vain 
does my unwilling credulity look for escape; in vain 
do I seek some excuse for the pitiless act ; the doer^ 
of the deed themselves tell the story, and say their 
cattle could not draw him. Hardcoop, from Antwerp, 
Belgium, sixty years of age, ill and worn out, was the 
abandoned man, and Eddy, the narrator of the fact, 
he who refused him conveyance. One Kiesburg, a 
most loathsome villain, of whom more hereafter, thrust 
from his wagon the old man, and when besought by 
his companions to return for him, replied, **I will not 

(Jal. Int. I'oc. 7 


kill my horses for old Hardcoop." Some offered to 
go back on foot and bring Hardcoop forward, but the 
others refused to wait for them. 

Daily their cattle lessened in number, some drop- 
ping from exhaustion, some being shot or stolen by 
the natives. In such cases, wagons and property were 
buried at different points. One of the party, a Ger- 
man, having lost all his oxen, wished the company to 
stop while he concealed his effects. This the others 
refused to do ; so selecting two men, likewise Germans, 
he prevailed on them to help him, assuring them that 
they could easily overtake the train. Three days 
after the two men came up, and told a story of on- 
slaught by the savages, in which their employer was 
killed and the property burned. As the dead man 
had money, no one doubted that the others murdered 
him for it. Intense selfishness governed the actions 
of women as well as of men. Eddy, having lost all 
his property, picked up one of his children, and his 
wife another, and thus they marched along, until 
fainting, they begged first of one woman and then of 
another, a little meat to save their little ones from 
starvation. They were everywhere refused. Unable 
to get water, Eddy begged a pint of one who had ten 
gallons, and was likewise refused. ''I will have it, 
or your life," cried the man, now desperate, and took 
it accordingly. The Donners had suffered severely 
with the rest, but up to this time their losses were 
less than some of the others. 

On the 29th of October, they reached the eastern 
base of the Sierra, which loomed before them high 
into the heavens, a white wall glistening with frosted 
pines. Climbing upward as far as they could go, they 
found the top of Truckee pass five feet under snow. 
Returning to a cabin near their camp of the preceding 
night, they rested next day, and on the 31st the whole 
party again attempted to cross the mountains. They 
ascended to within three miles of the summit, where 
they now found ten feet of snow, each moment thick- 


ened by the clouds. It was very cold. The wind 
howled round the crags, and the whirling snow blinded, 
and every moment threatened to engulf them. They 
saw how impossible it was to proceed farther, so re- 
turning to the cabin, they made preparations to win- 
ter there, near what is now called Donner lake. 

Soon their horses and cattle were all gone ; some 
butchered and eaten, others strayed and buried in the 
snow. A little game was with difficulty killed, but 
not sufficient to satisfy hunger. Starvation stared at 
them. It was death to go away, and death to remain 
there ; it is easier, however, to die in active endeavor 
than in passive despair. After three several failures, 
Eddy and sixteen others, five of whom were women, 
succeeded in crossing the summit on snow-shoes. 
This was on the 17th of December. They were now 
in the heart of the Sierra, faint, having but little 
food, and almost buried in the soft snow, which con- 
tinued falling day after day. They had one gun, but 
not a living thing was to be seen. Some were stricken 
with snow-blindness, and on the 23d of December, 
one, Mr Stanton, from Syracuse, New York, fell be- 
hind and perished. It was each for himself; they 
were all now as fiends seven times hardened. 

Christmas found them burrowing in the snow, and 
debating whether to attempt to proceed or to give it 
up. Eddy and the women determined to go on ; the 
others sullenly refused to move. From the start the 
allowance had been one ounce of food to each, three 
times a day ; now they had been without any food for 
two days. One, Patrick Dolan, proposed the casting 
of lots to determine which should die. Eddy assented; 
William Foster objected. It was then proposed that 
two should fight until one was slain ; then that they 
should continue their journey until one should suc- 
cumb, which last proposition was finally accepted. 
Then they staggered on three miles farther and en- 
camped. With great difficulty' they succeeded in 
lighting a fire, but during the night it was extin- 


guished by the storm. About ten o'clock one An- 
toine died ; three hours after, another, Graves ; the 
next day another, Dolan, the day after, one more, 
Murphy. Plenty of man-meat now 1 Two went 
mad ; the rest took turns praying. Tighter the skin 
cleaved to the fleshless bones, wilder and fiercer grew 
the sunken eyes, and fixed and more fixed the features 
of the ghastly faces. Hunger even left them, and 
they moved about their shrunken carcasses as if just 
dragged from the grave. 

After lying under their blankets in the snow for 
two days and nights they struck a fire, and all but 
Eddy, as he says, ''cut the flesh from the arms and 
legs of Patrick Dolan, and roasted and ate it, avert- 
ing their faces from each other, and weeping." The 
29th of December they departed from the Camp of 
Death, as they called their last halting-place, and 
went forward. Eddy would probably have died but 
for half a pound of roasted bear-meat which he acci- 
dentally found while fumbling for something in his 
pouch. It was wrapped in a paper on which was 
written in pencil, '' From your own dear Eleanor." 
Ah ! the boundless devotion of woman. He had left 
his wife behind, and now she starves herself and little 
ones to save him. Though he struggled manfully to 
rescue them he never saw wife or child again. Eddy 
was at last obliged to succumb, and feed on his fellows 
or die. He reported that he '' experienced no loathing 
or disgust, but his reason, which he thought was 
never more unclouded, told him that it was a horrid 

Swearing vengeance on Hastings, as others 
swore vengeance on Jesse Applegate for having de- 
coyed them, as they called it, into his cut-ofF, they 
staggered along, leaving on the white snow of the 
Sierra the crimson tracks of their bloody feet. Of 
the party were a Mr and Mrs Fosdick. The 4th of 
January, 1847, Fosdick died, and the body was left 
about a mile back from where they camped that night. 


In the morning, Mrs Fosdick, feeling that she must 
kiss once more the cold lips of her dead, started back for 
that purpose. In the words of Mr Thornton, Eddy's 
narrator, "two individuals accompanied her; and when 
they arrived at the body, they, notwithstanding the 
remonstrances, entreaties, and tears of the afflicted 
widow, cut out the heart and liver, and severed the 
arms and legs of her departed husband. Mrs Fos- 
dick took up a little bundle she had left, and returned 
with these two persons to one of the camps, where 
she saw an emigrant thrust the heart through with a 
stick, and hold it in the fire to roast. Unable to en- 
dure the horrible sight of seeing literally devoured 
a heart that had fondly and ardently loved her until 
it had ceased to throb, she turned away, and went to 
another camp, sick and almost blinded by the specta- 

On they go, death even too slow for their now 
ghoulish appetites; and as they reel along, drunk 
with misfortune and human blood, they solace them- 
selves with thoughts of their next repast. '* There is 
Mrs McCutcheon," says Foster, well-nigh insane, 
*' she's a nuisance, she can't keep up ; let us kill her. 
There is Mary Graves and Mrs Fosdick ; they have 
no children, what do you think of them ? " Some 
oppose, and then the men, so weak that they can 
scarcely stand, draw their weapons and threaten to 
fight over it. Next they shoot two tame Indians 
who had been sent by Sutter with horses to the relief 
of the party when it was first told him by Reed that 
they had lost their cattle in the desert, and before 
anything was known of their later great distress and 
starvation. The names of those sacrificed were Lewis 
and Salvador. So faithful were they to Sutter's in- 
terests, that a few days before they had refused to 
abandon the property of their master, even to save 
their own lives. When Sutter heard of it he was 
greatly distressed, and turning to the wretches, ex- 
claimed, ''You kill and eat all my good Indians I" 


Thus they slowly continued their way down the 
Sierra to the north branch of the American river, 
when on the 9th of January they came to a rancheria 
of natives, who were so overcome on beholding the 
pitiful condition of the strangers that they burst into 
loud lamentations, the women sobbing in sympathy 
as they hastily prepared mashed acorns for their re- 
lief Then these natives sent messengers on to the 
next rancheria, that its people might likewise prepare 
food and welcome for the afflicted travellers ; and so 
they passed them along from one to another, all that 
was left of them, until on the l7th of January they 
reached the house of M. D. Richey, whose kind- 
hearted daughter on first beholding Mr. Eddy burst 
into tears without speaking a word. 

Of the seventeen who set out from Truckee, eight 
had perished by the way, and all of these were men. 
Every woman had come through. The news of their 
suffering, and the condition of those left behind, spread 
swiftly among the settlers. Couriers were despatched 
to Sutter's fort, to Sonoma, to Yerba Buena, and im- 
mediate preparations were made for the relief of the 
sufferers. Men eagerly volunteered to go to their 
assistance, and money was furnished with lavish 
hands. Even thus early in her history, as ever after- 
ward, the heart of California was wide open to the 
cry of distress. Several expeditions at once set out 
for Mountain camp, as the cabins near Donner lake 
were called. The first was under Reed, who when 
driven from the camp for man-slaughter had made 
his way to California, where he was awaiting the ar- 
rival of the party with his wife and children. Sutter 
and John Sinclair sent out a party under Aquilla 
Glover. Eddy attempted to return with this party, 
but was obliged from weakness to give it up. Glover 
made two expeditions. Reed and McCutcheon two, 
Foster and Eddy one, besides the expeditions of 
Starks and others, and of Mr Fellan. 

Burying provisions in the snow for their return as 


they went along, Glover and his party reached Moun- 
tain camp on the evening of February 19th. On 
every side the snow presented an apparently unbroken 
level, and the stillness of death was there. They 
shouted, and the moaning wind answered like voices 
from another world. Other and louder shouts were 
raised. Presently, like vermin from their holes, crept 
forth from the cabin under the snow human forms, 
skeletons slowly moved by a cold and aching anima- 
tion. A dull delirium of joy broke forth in low laughs 
and sobs and tears. *^Have you brought anything 
for me ? " one after another asked, the narrator goes 
on to say : ''Many of them had a peculiarly wild ex- 
pression of the eye ; all looked haggard, ghastly, and 
horrible. The flesh was wasted from their bodies, and 
the skin seemed to have dried upon their bones. Their 
voices were weak and sepulchral ; and the whole scene 
conveyed to the mind the idea of that shout having 
reached another world, awakening the dead from un- 
der the snows. Fourteen of their number, principally 
men, had already died from starvation, and many 
more were so reduced that it was almost certain they 
would never rise from the miserable beds upon which 
they had lain down." The unhappy survivors were, in 
short, in a condition the most deplorable, and beyond 
the power of language to describe, or of the imagination 
to conceive. The annals of human suffering nowhere 
present a more appalling spectacle than that which 
blasted the eyes and sickened the hearts of those brave 
men whose indomitable courage and perseverance in 
the face of so many dangers, hardships, and privations, 
snatched some of these miserable survivors from the 
jaws of death, and who, for having done so much, 
merit the lasting gratitude and respect of every man 
who has a heart to feel for human woe, or a hand to 
afford relief. 

"Many of the sufferers had been living for weeks 
upon bullock hides ; and even this sort of food was so 
nearly exhausted with some, that they were about to 


dig up from the snow the bodies of their companions 
for the purpose of prolonging their wretched lives. 
Mrs. Reed, who lived in Breen's cabin, had, during 
a considerable time, supported herself and four chil- 
dren by cracking and boiling again the bones from 
which Breen's family had carefully scraped all the 

Some of the emigrants had been making prepara- 
tions for death, and at morning and evening the in- 
cense of prayer and thanksgiving ascended from their 
cheerless and comfortless dwellings. Others there 
were who thought they might as well curse God as 
bless him for bringing them to such a pass ; and so they 
did ; and they cursed the snow, and the mountains, 
and in the wildest frenzy deplored their miserable 
fate. Some poured bitter imprecations upon the world, 
and everything and everybody in it ; and all united in 
common fears of a common and inevitable death. 
Many of them had, in a great measure, lost all self- 
respect. Untold sufferings had broken their spirits, 
and prostrated everything like a commendable pride. 
Misfortune had dried up the fountains of the heart; 
and the dead, whom their weakness made it impossi- 
ble to carry out, were dragged from their cabins by 
means of ropes, with an apathy that afforded a faint 
indication of the extent of the change which a few 
weeks of dire suffering had produced in hearts that 
once sympathized with the distressed and mourned 
the departed. With many of them, all principle, too, 
had been swept away by this tremendous torrent of 
accumulated woes. It became necessary to place a 
guard over the little store of provisions brought to 
their relief; and they stole and devoured the raw-hide 
strings from the snow-shoes of those who had come 
to deliver them. Upon going down into the cabins 
of this Mountain camp, to the party were presented 
sights of misery and scenes of horror, the full tale of 
which will never be told, and never ought to be ; sights 
which, although the emigrants had not yet commenced 


eating the dead, were so revolting that they were 
compelled to withdraw and make a fire where they 
would not be under the necessity of looking upon the 
painful spectacle." Some were already too far gone 
to eat; others died from over-eating. 

Glover could take out part of the sufferers only. 
One of the Donner brothers was so reduced that it 
was found impossible to remove him. His wife, who 
was comparatively well, when besought by her hus- 
band to accompany the party, firmly refused ; and 
there she remained through horrible lingerings, and 
died with her husband, a noble example of conjugal 
fidehty. It was with the utmost difficulty that any 
of these unfortunates were conveyed over the snow, 
and to add to their misery, Mr. Glover, when in the 
extremest necessity, found his buried provisions de- 
stroyed by cougars. One of their number, John 
Denton, when he could proceed no farther, told them 
to go on and leave him, which was done after building 
him a fire and leaving him nearly all their food; and 
there he died. 

On the 25th of February, they encountered Keed 
and his party going in, the meeting between whom 
and his wife was most affecting. Reed continued his 
way, as his two children were yet at Mountain camp. 
He found the survivors in a yet more pitiful plight 
than when Glover first saw them. After performing 
several acts of humanity, the relief party *'had now, 
for the first time a little leisure to observe. The 
mutilated body of a friend, having nearly all the flesh 
torn away, was seen at the door, the head and face 
remaining entire. Half consumed limbs were seen 
concealed in trunks. Bones were scattered about. 
Human hair of different colors was seen in tufts about 
the fire-place. The sight was overwhelming, and 
outraged nature sought relief by one spontaneous out- 
cry of agony, and grief, and tears. The air was rent 
by the wails of sorrow and distress that ascended at 
once, and as if by previous concert, from that charnel- 


house of death beneath the snow." There were chil- 
dren wallowing in their filth, and moaning for food, 
that had so lain, undisturbed, for fourteen days. 

Jacob Donner was dead. Baptiste had just left the 
camp of the widow with the leg and thigh of the dead 
man, " for which he had been sent by George Donner, 
the brother of the deceased. That was given, but the 
boy was informed that no more could be given, Jacob 
Donner's body being the last they had. They had 
consumed four bodies, and the children were sitting 
upon a log, with their faces stained with blood, de- 
vouring the half-roasted liver and heart of the father, 
unconscious of the approach of the men, of whom they 
took not the slightest notice even after they had come 
up. Mrs Jacob Donner was in a helpless condition, 
without anything whatever to eat except the body of 
her husband, and she declared she would die before 
she would eat of this. Around the fire were hair, 
bones, skulls, and the fragments of half-consumed 

The relief party under Foster and Eddy was the 
next to enter. Eddy found his wife and children all 
dead. ^^ Patrick Breen and his wife seemed not in 
any degree to realize the extent of their peril, or that 
they were in peril at all. They were found lying 
down, sunning themselves, and evincing no concern 
for the future. They had consumed the two children 
of Jacob Donner." The wickedest man of all was 
Kiesburg, the same who so cruelly thrust the old man 
from his wagon. While there were yet hides enough 
to sustain life, and a dead bullock uncovered by the 
melting snow on which the others lived, he took to 
bed with him one night Foster's little four-year-old 
boy, and devoured him before morning. ''What adds, 
if possible, to the horrors of this horrible meal is the 
fact that the child was alive when it was taken to 
bed, leading to the suspicion that he strangled it, al- 
though he denies this charge. This man also devoured 
Mr Eddy's child before noon the next day, and was 


among the first to communicate the fact to him. When 
asl^ed by the outraged fatlier why he did not eat the 
hides and bullock, he coolly replied that he preferred 
human flesh as being more palatable and containing 
more nutriment." 

Fellen and his party, the last to visit the place for 
purposes of relief, did not reach the camp until the 
1 7th of April. As narrated by Bryant, they found 
Kiesburg " reclining on the floor of the cabin, smoking 
his pipe. Near his head a fire was blazing, upon 
which was a camp-kettle filled with human flesh. His 
feet were resting upon skulls and dislocated limbs de- 
nuded of their flesh. A bucket partly filled with 
blood was near, and pieces of human flesh, fresh and 
bloody, were strewn around. The appearance of 
Kiesburg was haggard and revolting. His beard was 
of great length ; his finger-nails had grown out until 
they resembled the claws of beasts. He was ragged 
and filthy, and the expression of his countenance was 
ferocious. He stated that the Donners were both 

Accused of having murdered Mrs Donner for her 
money, he denied it, until Fellen put a rope round 
his neck and threatened to hang him, when he pro- 
duced some of the valuables of the Donners, and five 
hundred dollars in money. Fellen, in his journal, 
under date of April 20th, says of Kiesburg, the last 
of the emigrants to leave this place of abomination, 
*'they hurried him away, but before leaving he gath- 
ered together the bones, and heaped them all in a 
box he used for the purpose, blessed them and the 
cabin, and said, 'I hope God will forgive me for what 
I have done ; I couldn't help it, and I hope I may get 
to heaven yet. We asked Kiesburg why he did not 
use the meat of the bullock and horse instead of hu- 
man flesh. He replied he had not seen them. We 
tlien told him we knew better, and asked him why 
the meat in the chair had not been consumed. He 
said, ' O, its too dry eating ; the liver and lights are 


a (2:reat deal better, and the brains make good soup." 
When accused of the murder of Mrs Donner, he said 
that Mrs Donner, in attempting to cross from one 
cabin to another, had *' missed the trail, and slept out 
one night ; that she came to his camp the next night 
very much fatigued; he made her a cup of coffee, 
placed her in bed, and rolled her well in the blankets, 
but the next morning found her dead. He ate her 
body, and found her flesh the best he had ever tasted. 
He further stated that he obtained from her body at 
least four pounds of fat." 

A.t the close of a general summary of the affair, 
the California Star of the 10th of April 1847, says: 
''After the first few deaths, but the one all-absorbing 
thought of individual self-preservation prevailed. 
The fountains of natural affection were all dried up. 
The chords that once vibrated with connubial, parental, 
and filial affection were rent asunder, and each seemed 
resolved, without regard to the fate of others, to es- 
cape the impending calamity. Even the wild hostile 
mountain Indians, who once visited their camps, pitied 
them ; and instead of pursuing the natural impulse of 
their hostile feeling to the whites and destroying them 
as they could easily have done, divided their own 
scanty supply of food with them. So changed had 
the emigrants become, that when the party sent out 
arrived with food, some of them cast it aside, and 
seemed to prefer the putrid human flesh that still 

On his return to the east, General Kearney passed 
by the scene of these tragical occurrences, and halted 
there on the 22d of June, 1847. He ordered the re- 
mains collected and buried in one of the cabins ; some 
of the bodies presented a mummy-like appearance, 
the flesh having remained undecayed in the dry at- 
mosphere. Fire was then set to the cabin, and so was 
consumed as far as possible every trace of the melan- 
choly occurrence. Of the eighty persons originally 
composing the party, thirty-six perished, of whom 


but eight were females, while twenty-four females and 
twenty males survived. 

Revolting as are these revelations, the half has 
not been told. Of the dark deeds committed in this 
sepulchral Sierra, under cover of night, or in the 
light of day made blacker than blackest night by the 
darkness of the deed, comparatively few have ever 
been told. But enough has been told to show us 
what men will do when forced by necessity. These 
Donners were cultivated, wealthy people; they be- 
haved better in some respects than the others, and 
yet they did not wholly forbear to eat of each other. 

During the immigration of 1849, and before that 
time, there were many parties who underwent much 
suffering; some similar to those experienced by the 
Donner party, yet there was no instance which as a 
whole equalled those horrors in magnitude and inten- 
sity. Toward this western shore had set the world's 
tide of human life and human passion. So great was 
the movement of 1849 that I might say there was 
almost a continuous line of wagons from the Missouri 
river to the Sierra Nevada, an almost unbroken line 
of light from the camp-fires at night; hence it was 
safe enough for single wagons, or horsemen, or foot 
passengers even, to join the throng. And many of 
these individual adventurers there were. But man 
likes company, especially when there is toil and un- 
certainty before him; and so at the east overland 
societies were organized and officered bound for the 
mines, the object being that by a community of labor 
or capital mutual comfort and safety might be in- 

The idea of association was to divide the venture, 
or to unite the benefits of money and labor, or for 
mutual aid, or protection, or to assure attention in 
case of sickness, or for all these combined. One 
desires to go to California who has not the means, 
so he drives across the plains the team of cue who 


requires a driver. Hundreds of associations were 
formed on various plans, some to go out by water and 
some by land. Usually they were composed of from 
t^n to fifty persons, though I have known companies c f 
100, and one of 150 men. Each member contributed 
so much capital either in money or its equivalent, 
which was expended before starting in provisions, 
clothing, utensils, medicines, or whatever in the 
opinions of the officers would yield the largest profit, 
or tend most to the amelioration of the condition of 
the members. In Augusta, Maine, a society was 
formed of thirty persons, each contributing $500, 
which capital was employed in the purchase of a 
ship of 200 tons, and freighting it with wooden 
houses, machines for washing and separating gold, a 
mill, and merchandise, of which a portion was to be 
sold in San Francisco, and part to be used by the 
members of the association in mining and milling 
operations of their own. Another similar copartner- 
ship was organized at Utica, New York, with a capi- 
tal of $30,000; and many others. The ships were 
to be sold or abandoned at San Francisco, and seamen 
eagerly shipped to be discharged there. 

But these associations were mostly failures. They 
were too cumbersome, the men too inexperienced, too 
little acquainted with the country and with what 
they proposed to do, knowing neither each other nor 
themselves. The inefficient members cramped the 
energies of those who might succeed alone ; cumber- 
some associations cannot move with the promptness and 
celerity of individuals ; they are unable to act indi- 
vidually, to seize occasions, and the best men belong- 
ing to them are usually most rejoiced to be free 
from them. 

Codes were sometimes adopted and by-laws signed ; 
but from inexperience, and the festerings arising from 
new and strange abrasures^ overland parties frequently 
broke into helter-skelter scrambles before the jour- 
ney was half completed. Frequently the means 


necessary for the journey, either by land or water, 
would be furnished by one in consideration of a prom- 
ise froiii the other to perform a certain amount cf 
labor, or to divide the profits. But so entirely then 
was California beyond the reach of law, or even light, 
or restraint, that a man must be impregnated with 
honesty and conscience in a remarkable degree long to 
be mindful of obligations entered into with those who 
are never to know if he keeps them. 

No sooner was a family, for instance, fairly started 
overland, than the master was as much m the hands 
of the man as the man was in those of the master ; 
and often an emigrant was obliged to submit to insult 
and wrong heaped upon him by some base-minded 
churl to whom he was doing charity All the em- 
ployer could do in such cases was to turn the man 
adrift, but this was impracticable in the middle of the 
plains with teams and stock to be attended to. 
Moreover, such action might be exactly what the 
fellow would like, as he could then make his way for- 
ward untrammeled, with what his employer would feel 
obliged to give him, or he could join some other 

Often when ready to start, the most absurd rumors 
were rife. Some would say that the Mormons, ready 
to kill or convert the emigrants, waited and watched 
for them at the rivers ; in romantic regions savages 
lurked, if so be they should escape the avenging 
saints ; while still farther west, the emissaries of per- ' 
fidious fur-companies had penetrated to bribe with 
rum or blankets the unsophisticated red man, and 
stir him up against intruders upon the game-filled 
park that God had given him. 

Full of fanciful theories, until experience beat prac- 
tical common-sense into them, some of the doings of 
the emigrants were most childish. One company a 
few days after starting was struck with a freak of 
law-making ; and immediately after attempting to put 
in practice the new regulations, as was often the case, 


it all fell in pieces. It appears that an edict had 
gone forth against dogs ; all must die or leave the 
train. The enraged owners of valuable canines 
rushed to arms, and prepared to mingle the blood of 
the slayers with that of the slain. The result was 
the amendment of the decree and a reelection of 

The ordinary migration was something as follows: 
From the various points of departure along the then 
so-called western frontier, companies, families, and in- 
dividuals set out on foot, on horseback, on mules, in 
covered wagons — prairie clippers or schooners some 
called them — drawn by long files of cattle, and filled 
with flour, bacon, beans, sugar, coffee, tobacco, 
whisky, cooking and household utensils, and other 
useful and useless articles, many of which were soon 
to be thrown away to lighten the load. Extra draft 
and riding animals to be used as relays, and to take 
the places of the exhausted, lost, or stolen ; and some- 
times cows and sheep, were driven, beside or behind the 
wagon. As the animals thinned in number, oxen 
and mules, or horses and cows, might be seen yoked 
together, and horseless cavaliers, thankful of any re- 
lief for their blistered feet, did not disdain to mount 
horned cattle. In the wagons were women, children, 
and sick persons, though often these were obliged to 
walk to save the strength of the fainting animals. 
At the belt of many were carried a large knife, and 
one or more revolvers ; slung to the back a rifle, and 
from the saddle-horn a lasso hung ready for imme- 
diate use. Taking with them their wives and 
children these gold-worshippers left behind — not 
starvation and anarchy, but peaceful, happy homes, 
good government and plenty, abasing their work-worn 
women, and exposing their nurselings to burning plains 
and icy mountains, dooming them to disease, perhaps 
death. Love of adventure prompted some, love of 


wealth most of them, and love of lawlessness and 
crime not a few. 

The distance by these routes was about 2,000 miles, 
though 3,000 miles of trackless wilderness were trod 
by some of the earlier caravans. Their path lay 
through vast prairies, over the Rocky range, across 
the alkaline plains, then up the Sierra Nevada, and 
down into the garden of California. For weeks and 
months the emigrants were out of sight of any human 
habitation ; even the homes of the savages that now 
and then swept down upon them, were unknown and 
out of view. On reaching the game region, elk, wild 
turkeys, and an occasional panther were seen, which 
some would pursue, but with the exception of now 
and then a wiser hunter who would strike a noble 
quarry, their incipient ^kill in the use of fire-arms 
secured little food. Bands of buffalo and scattering 
antelope, with the gray wolf, coyote, raven, and other 
beasts of prey, with nomadic tribes of savage men and 
women, were the sole occupants of this vast, and 
sometimes sterile region. At intervals was water, 
and here and there vegetation. Sometimes grass 
buried the travellers in its long wavey folds, and again 
it would be too poor even to feed the fires that an- 
nually swept over it. 

To cross the mountains during winter was prac- 
tically impossible; and as news of the gold discovery 
reached the east too late for the summer of 1848, it 
was not until about the middle of 1849 that the tide 
of overland emigration fairly set in. Independence, 
Missouri, was one of the chief points of departure 
from the northern states, and Sacramento the goal ; 
or if for southern California, the Santa Fe trail was 
taken — that old trail, never by any chance passing 
within shot of the black oak timber that occasionally 
dotted the horizon or filled the ravines, for the wary 
old pioneers who had laid it out knew better than 
that. At this time 30,000 souls and more, each in its 
glowing ardor, and from its individual history, might 

Cal. Int. Poc. 8 


tell a tale more thrilling and more fascinating than- 
any of ancient pilgrimage, trailed over plains and rug- 
ged hills of desolation, often with a miserable road, 
or with no road at all ; and exposed to tornadoes fierce 
enough to demolish a caravan, followed by ravenous 
wolves and croaking ravens, harrassed by savages, 
keeping watch by night, and sweating and swearing 
by day ; suffering from scurvy and fever engendered 
by salt unwholesome food, and from cholera brought 
up the river from New Orleans, and which clung to 
them until dissipated by the sharp air of the elevated 
regions 500 miles distant. Over the boundless prairies 
they straggled, up in to the rarified air that stifled men 
and beasts, down into waterless, sandy sinks ; across 
sage brush plains efflorescent with alkali, over salty- 
white flats caked hard as stone, through blinding dust, 
and into heaps of sand-like drifted ashy earth where 
the animals sank to their bellies ; resting by cooling 
springs, or thirsting beside fetid and acrid waters; 
winding along the banks of sluggish water-courses, 
fording brackish brooks, swimming ice-cold rivers, ex- 
posed now to the unbroken rays of a withering sun, 
and now to chilliing hail-storms, hurricanes, and suffo- 
cating sand-blasts; sometimes miring in mud, some- 
thiies choked in impalpable dust which saturated hair 
and clothes, filled eyes and nostrils, and made these 
emigrant trains look like caravans emerging from an 
ash storm on the plains of Sodom. 

But what were these temporal miseries beside the 
eternal reward that awaited them beyond the Sierra, 
which, from its eastern slope, so grimly frowned on 
those who came so far to tamper with its treasures ? 
Blessed faith! though material and transient in its 
promised joys, it w^as none the less immortal What 
though credence be but a fata morgana, happiness a 
phantom, and flattering hope be fed by night on dreams 
and by day on mirage ; what though imaginary shapes 
take on reality, and thought spends itself in midnight 
apparitions and fantastic aerial visions, faith and hope 

MIRAGE. lis 

and happiness are none the less real, none the less 
eternal By day and by night, waking or sleeping, 
gorgeous pictures toward the west were spread out 
before these pilgrims — by day, phantasmagoria, aerial 
plays of fancy as manifested in these terraqueous 
metamorphoses due to variations from ordinary refrac- 
tions of luminous rays in their passage through atmos- 
pheric strata of different densities, thus pluralizing 
reflections, bringing objects nearer, transporting them 
to a distance, lifting them up from below the horizon, 
investing and deforming them — by night, pictures of 
the past and the future, the unwelcome present for 
the moment wrapped in oblivion ; pictures of home, of 
opulence, of merry-makings, and heart-gladdenings. 

Here, high above the ocean, between the two great 
uplifted ranges, where hills and desert flats rise well 
nigh into the clouds, is the native land of the mirage, 
distinct in its unreality, magnificent, though built of 
air and sand. Now it is a lonely valley, bearing in 
its bosom a glassy lake, girdled with waving groves 
and parted by rushing streams ; and now the gilded 
spires of a mighty city pierce the dull, desiccated 
heavens, massive masonry pillars the firmament, while 
long drawn shadows cross and re-cross the marble 
domes and crenelled turrets of a thousand palaces em- 
balmed in pleasant gardens like a Babylon, or gleam- 
ing from settings of silver as where the lion of Saint 
Mark keeps guard over the bride of the Adriatic ; at 
times, again, their own images would loom out dis- 
torted in figure or position, like the ghost of Brocken, 
through the gloomy sultry air palpable with sand. 
As when, blear-eyed from long contentions with the 
sand and sun, exhausted by toilsome travel and faint- 
ing with thirst. Fancy strips the earth of its pallid cov- 
ering and fills the rent with the vaulted firmament, 
sets up images motionless in the air and sends aerial 
animals of divers sorts in hot chase one after another, 
inundates sandy plains by the beating of the upshoot- 
ing sun upon the surface, and places before them 


with the ill covered graves of men and women, ghastly 
skeletons of golden hopes. Some were overtaken by 
the snow, and losing their way, perished ; some were 
shot by savages; some fell by disease. In the words 
of a pilgrim, "the last part of the emigration resembled 
the rout of an army, with its distressed multitudes of 
helpless sufferers, rather than the voluntary movement 
of a free people." On reaching the Truckee, their 
weary spirits grew buoyant again; for now the trail 
was good, water and grass abundant, and the first tall 
trees which they had seen for eight hundred miles, 
appear. So on the survivors come, sometimes worn 
out by famine and fatigue, over sterile hills and scorch- 
ing Saharas, through the valleys of death and from 
the plains of desolation, heedless if not heartless, up 
by the pathway through the cloven granite, through 
the mountain pass, then zig-zag down the steep slopes, 
and beneath the shadowy pines of the Sierra, empty- 
ing all that is left of them and their belongings into 
the valley of the Sacramento, or into the garden of 
Los Angeles, ready after their toilsome march to reap 
and riot with the best of them. 

Fortunate indeed are they if their last flour be not 
cooked, and the last morsel of rancid bacon be not de- 
voured, before reaching their journey's end. Once 
among the settlers, however, and they are sure of the 
means of appeasi ng their hunger ; for there yet remain s 
something of that substantial hospitality which the 
poorest western emigrant would think it shame to re- 
fuse another. 

Now they may revel in the realms of golden dreams. 
Here, indeed, is the promised land; and these dirt- 
colored, skin-cracked, blinded, and footsore travellers, 
whose stomach linings are worn and wasted from car- 
rying foul food and fetid water — let them enjoy it. 
Stripping off their ragged and gritty clothes, the 
newly -arrived may bathe in the inviting streams, 
drinking in the cool, refreshing water at every pore ; 
they may put on fresh apparel, and fill themselves 


ipvltli good bread and beef; then mounting their horses, 
they may wade them through tracts of wild oats that 
top both horse and rider, and they may tread down 
the yellow bloom of countless autumnal flowers. They 
may see herds of antelopes passing along the plain 
like wind-waves over the grass, and droves of wild 
horses tossing their heads in the air as their broad 
nostrils catch the taint of the intruders, and great, 
antlered elk, some as big as Mexican mules, grazing 
about the groves and under the scattered trees. Now 
they may rest, and now the more fortunate may hope 
to enjoy the luxury of house, and bed with clean 
sheets and soft pillows. Yet at first, to him who has 
long slept in the open air, these are no luxuries. Often 
those accustomed to every comfort at home, neat and 
fastidious in all their tastes, on resuming their former 
mode of living after sleeping a few months in the open 
air, have been obliged to leave a comfortable bed and 
spread their blankets under the trees if they would 
have sleep. The house and its trappings stifle them. 
So hates the savage civilization. 

The relative dangers of the overland and ocean 
journeys have sometimes been discussed. I should 
say that in danger, and in the romance which danger 
brings, the journey across the plains eclipsed the 
steamer voyage, in which there was more vexation of 
spirit than actual peril. Even the long and stormy 
passage of Cape Horn had fewer terrors than the be- 
lated passage of the snowy Sierra. The traveller 
who takes ship for a far-ofl* land incurs risk, it is true ; 
but if he reaches his destination at all, it is without 
effort on his part. He throws himself upon the 
mercy of the elements, and once having done this he 
can do no more. But there is much that is strength- 
ening, ennobling, in the battlings and uncertainties of 
overland travel. I have, indeed, often thought that 
man is never more ingloriously placed, that his petti- 
ness and feebleness are never more ignobly patent, 


than when he is brought face to face with nature 
upon the ocean. See him as he scans the horizon 
with anxious and fearful eye, watching for an enemy 
which he knows is his master ; mark him, when that 
enemy appears, cringing and shrinking from the shock 
of battle, his ship tossing helplessly with folded and 
bedraggled wings, as if seeking to become so small 
and insignificant that the storm will sweep over her 
bowed head in contemptuous pity. 

But what a different aspect man presents when 
braving and contending with perils such as those to 
which our overland immigrants were exposed. They 
were not so much at the mercy of capricious elements, 
to drive them hundreds of miles out of their course 
or retard their journey for months. Upon their own 
strength, courage, and endurance they relied. Having 
determined their route they set their faces westward, and 
westward by that route they went until their goal was 
reached, opposing force with force, meeting danger, 
difficulty, and hardship, without flinching, conquering 
every foot of the way by their own indomitable will 

Yet, alas I many here fell by the way, as we have 



Some set out, like crusaders of old, with a glorious equipment of hope 
and enthusiasm, and get broken by the way, wanting patience with each 
other and the world. — George Eliot. 

Everybody is supposed to know, though everybody 
does not know, that Phryxos fled from the wrath of 
his father Athamas, king of Orchoraenus, in Boeotia, 
riding through the air to Colchis upon the ram with 
the golden fleece, which was the gift of Hermes. 
The ram was then sacrificed to Zeus, and the fleece 
given to King ^tes, who hung it upon a sacred oak 
ill the grove of Ares, where it was guarded night and 
day by an ever-watchful dragon. Pelias, king of 
lolcos, in Thessaly, sent Jason his half brothers son, 
who claimed the sovereignty, with the chief heroes 
of Greece, in the ship Argo to fetch the golden fleece. 
Jason obtained the fleece, though Pelias had hoped 
he should have been destroyed. Of the Argonauts 
there were fifty in number, and among them Hercules, 
and the singer Orpheus, Castor and Pollux, Zetes and 
Calais, Mopus, Theseus, and others, the stories con- 
cerning whose enterprise, it is thought, grew out of 
the commercial expeditions of the Munyans to the 
coasts of the Euxine. Ulysses, returning from the 
seige of Troy, made a ten year's voyage, being driven 
about by tempests, during which time he underwent 
many strange adventures. Other Mediterranean 
mythological voyages there were, and hypothetical 
navigations to the near shores and islands of the 
Atlantic and Indian oceans; following which were 



the voyages of the Scandinavians, those fierce Norse- 
men that were the terror of all the maritime nations 
of northern Europe, and the first known discoverers 
of America. Then there were the voyages of the 
Portuguese round Africa, and of the Spaniards to 
America; there were the Dutch voyages for conquest, 
and the English voyages of circumnavigation ; there 
were voyages of discovery, commercial voyages, voy- 
ages for purposes of war, science, and religion, for 
pleasure, profit, and proselyting, but never since the 
sea was made has there been seen such voyaging as 
the trip to California during the flush times. And 
never shall the sea behold such sights again ; never 
shall tempest sport such tangled human freight, nor 
the soft tropical wind whisper of such confused and 
desultory cargoes as those which swept the main in 
ships from every point in search of the new golden 

As compared with contemporaneous trans- Atlantic 
navigation, the voyage from New York to San Fran- 
cisco by way of the Isthmus presents entirely distinct 
features. It was an episode individual and peculiar ; 
a part, and no small part, of the great uprising and 
exodus of the nations ; it was the grand pathway of 
pilgrims from all parts of the eastern world ; it was 
brimfull of romance and comedy, of unnumbered 
woes and tragedy, enlivened now and then by a dis- 
aster which sent a thrill throughout the civilized 
world. It was a briny, boisterous idyl, where courage 
bore along slippery passage-ways, and love lounged 
upon canopied decks, and sentiment in thin muslin 
cooed in close cabins, and vice and virtue went hand 
in hand as friends. 

The California voyage occupied twice the time of 
the trans- Atlantic ; the steamers employed in the 
former were large, standing well out of water, and 
capable of carrying from 700 to 1,500 passengers, 
while those of the latter were lower and smaller. 
In the character of the passengers, those by European 


vessels were more homogeneous, more alike one an- 
other, each ship carrying a fraternizing cargo what- 
ever the caste, a cargo of nearer kinship in origin and 
destination, while on the Californian steamers all was 
babel-tongued discordant conglomeration. In scenery 
the California trip, as compared to the European, is 
as kaleidoscope to spy -glass; there are seas that lash 
themselves into angry foam, seas that race their blue 
billows along, swirling and shaking their crests in 
careless wantonness, and seas glassy as mountain lakes, 
mirroring the luxuriant green of tropical isles and 
mainland. Within the three weeks allotted to the 
trip the voyager passes under the influence of the 
four seasons, is introduced to wonderful lands, and 
made acquainted witli strange peoples. Nature and 
human nature assumes phases altogether new ; unique 
experiences and wide prospects sharpen the faculties 
and enlarge ideas. A sort of inspiration follows ; the 
windows of the mind are opened and immensity 
rushes in, even sea-sickness is an inspiration, or is 
followed by keener thoughts and an inspiriting frame 
'of mind. 

The reasons why there never again can be such sea- 
voyagings are obvious. This planet lias no other Cali- 
fornia left, no other Pacific coast, no further stretch 
of gold -besprinkled unoccupied temperate zone. Gold 
discoveries there may be, and possible uprisings and 
rushes, but the earth is now belted by railways and 
telegraphs, and all parts of it worth rushing to, all 
parts of it possible to seize, pleasant to live in, or 
profitable to subdue are now occupied and guarded by 
civilized or semi -civilized nations. There never will 
be another crusade for the recov^ery of the holy sep- 
ulchre, nor another ten centuries of religious wars, 
nor another Bartholemew massacre, nor any more 
old-fashioned voyages of discovery, nor any more 
California gold-hunter's voyages of adventure. His- 
tory may repeat itself; so may nature, progressional 
phenomena, and fundamental social laws, but mon- 


strosities, aberrations, and abnormities, never. The 
early voyage to California, like everything purely 
Californian, is and ever shall be sui generis. 

On the 24th of February, 1852, accompanied by 
my friend Mr Kenny, I set sail from New York in 
the steamer George Law for Habana. There were 
then two steamship lines in operation between New 
York and San Francisco — one by way of Nicaragua, 
and the other by way of Panamd. By the Nicara- 
gua route, passengers were conveyed direct to San 
Juan del Norte, or Greytown, where they took a 
small steamboat and were conveyed up the river San 
Juan and across Lake Nicaragua to Virgin bay, 
Rivas, or Nicaragua, as the landing was severally 
called ; thence by land to San Juan del Sur, and 
again by steamer to San Francisco. Two steamers 
of the Panama line, sailing one from New York and 
the other from New Orleans, met at Habana. There 
the passengers and mails of both were transferred to 
a third steamer and conveyed to the port of Chagres, 
where, disembarking, the Chagres river was ascended 
in small open boats to Gorgona, or Cruces, thence by 
saddle and pack mules to Panamd, where the Pacific 
Mail Steamship Company's steamer lay waiting to 
sail for San Francisco, touching at Acapulco. 

As early as 1835 the attention of the president, 
Andrew Jackson, was called by Henry Clay to the 
subject of inter-oceanic communication, and Charles 
Biddle was appointed commissioner to examine the 
several routes and report thereon. Nothing, how- 
ever, was then accomplished. In 1847 the vexed 
question of the boundary line between British 
Columbia and Oregon having been settled by treaty 
of the United States with Great Britain, it was 
deemed desirable, if possible, that some shorter and 
safer route should be found to the rich valleys of the 
Northwest Coast, which were then rapidly being 
settled, than the savage path across the plains, or 


the tedious voyage round Cape Horn. With this 
end in view, on the 3rd of March, 1847, the secretary 
of the navy was authorized by congress to contract 
for a mail steamship service from New York via 
Panamd to Astoria, Oregon, touching on the Atlan- 
tic side at Charleston, Savanah, and Habana, and on 
the Pacific at San Diego, Monterey, and San Fran- 
cisco. Under this authorization a contract for a 
monthly service for ten years, at a compensation of 
$199,000 per annum, was awarded to Arnold Harris, 
who assigned it to William H. Aspinwall and his 
associates. Here, then, was the beginning of the 
Pacific Mail Steamship Company, which, stimulated 
by the acquisition of California, and the subsequent 
£;old discoveries — both of which events happened 
within less than three months after its organization — 
assumed mammoth proportions, and became the 
largest oceanic transportation company the world has 
ever seen, having operated some sixty or seventy 
steamers, sending its monster vessels ploughing the 
seas every fifteen days half round the globe from 
New York to Hong Kong, by way of Panamd and 
San Francisco. 

Until the autumn of 1855, the operations of the 
Pacific Mail Steamship Company were limited to the 
Pacific, the service on the Atlantic being under the 
auspices of the United States Mail Steamship Com- 
pany, which sailed their vessels in connection with 
the Pacific company. During the year of its organi- 
zation, which was in the latter part of 1847, three 
steamers were built and despatched round Cape Horn 
for San Francisco, via Panama: first the California^ 
then the Panama, and lastly the Oregon, although 
the Panama being obliged to put back for repairs, the 
Oregon was the first to arrive at her destination. In 
this naming of their crafts it would seem that Cali- 
fornia, even then, was the central idea in the minds 
of these ship-owners, although it is affirmed that 
authentic news of the discovery of gold had not 


reached them when the pioneer vessel, the California, 
went to sea, which was on the 6th of October, 1848. 
The Panama and the Oregon followed the California 
at short intervals. In consequence of the gold 
discovery, and the distraction in maritime affairs 
growing out of it, the original project of continuing 
the line to Oregon was abandoned, and San Francisco 
was made the terminus. 

The Pacific Mail Steamship Company was not the 
first to raise the shrill whistle of steam in these west 
coast waters. Organized in England in 1840, was a 
company for the purpose of steam navigation in the 
Pacific, and two steamers of 700 tons each, the Peru 
and the Cliili^ were sent under the command of 
William Wheelwright through the strait of Magellan 
to the port of Talcahuano; but this enterprise failed 
from improper managemem:. In 1845 a little steam 
schooner, whose machinery had been put in by Erics- 
son as a sort of experiment, was sent by P. B. Forbes 
from Boston round Cape of Good Hope to China, 
and upon the death of the captain the mate claims 
to have crossed thence to San Francisco. Then the 
Hudson's Bay Company had their steamer plying 
between Puget Sound and Russian America before 
the California, a magnificent wooden side-wheel 
steamer of 900 tons, entered proudly the Golden 

On the 1st of December, 1848, as our history tells 
us, the Atlantic company despatched the steamer 
Falcon for Chagres to connect with the California 
from Panama, northward. The passengers by the 
Falcon were not all of them gold-seekers, as rumors 
of gold discoveries prior to her departure were so faint 
as to have created little impression upon the public 
mind. Arrived at Panama, however, they found 
some 1500 eager adventurers close upon their heels, 
all clamorous for a passage to San Francisco, each 
ravenous to be in at the rich harvest before the 
others. All anxiously awaited the arrival of the 


California, which made her appearance twenty-five 
days after the Falcons passengers had reached Pan- 
amd, and with 500 of the more highly favored, the 
first steamship sailed majestically up the coast, entered 
the bay of San Francisco, and came to anchor between 
Yerba Buena island and the Cove, on the 28th of 
February, 1849. 

What an awakening was here along these hitherto 
slumbering shores ; steam, gold, and Anglo-American 
occupation, all in a breath ! And let it be borne in 
mind that neither of these events grew out of the 
other ; each was independent, though all simultaneous 
- -as if this fair land, ripening for untold ages in the 
womb of time, had with the throes of progress now 
been born to the sphere, and made ready for the use 
of civilized man. 

Then followed a series of the vilest impositions ever 
practised upon a travelling public. An opposition 
line by way of Nicaragua was early established, but 
this tended rather to increase than to diminish the 
discomforts of passengers; for the fare was at times 
roduced so low that it would scarcely pay for the food 
consumed, to say nothing of compensation for passage. 
Then combinations would be entered into, and Cali- 
fornia made to bleed for the shipowner's former 
losses. Subsequently the Nicaragua company ob- 
tained control of the Panamd line on the Atlantic 
side, and the Nicaragua line was discontinued. This 
made matters worse than ever ; for so powerful had 
this monopoly now become, that it could safely defy 
opposition from any source, and these heartless and 
unscrupulous steamship magnates, called by the much 
abused Californians the scourges of the ocean, were 
determined to wring from their traffic the last possible 
dollar, at whatever cost of comfort, health, property, 
or even life to those who were obliged to commit 
themselves into their hands. 

The service on the Atlantic at this time would 
have better befitted the African slave trade than the 


carrying of American citizens; the vessels were small, 
ill-appointed, often unsea worthy, half- manned, with- 
out order or discipline, and with little attention to 
comfort or safety. Exacting the money before the 
passenger went on board, all they could get out of 
him, shipowners sometimes performed part, some- 
times the whole of their contract, according to cir- 
cumstances. Indeed captains, seamen, pursers, waiters, 
stewards, hotel-keepers, boatmen, and railway officials, 
often appear to regard the wayfarer as an enemy, 
going from place to place to disturb honest folk like 
themselves, and whom to answer otherwise than in a 
contemptuous, surly manner were a disgrace to the 
profession. A mistake had been committed, the em- 
ployes of the California steamship companies seemed 
to say, in not having had the passengers all put in 
irons before starting. Ear-ringed islanders, tattoed 
sailors, impudent negroes, and improved Irishmen, 
upon principle snubbed every one that came in their 
w^ay, rich or poor, ignorant or learned, as infinitely 
beneath them. Jammed into a purgatorial hole, there 
to remain in durance vile until the heaven of Califor- 
nia was opened to them, from the beginning to the 
end of the journey travellers were at the mercy of 
these vile, unprincipled persons. The rooms were 
often so close and filthy that occupants dreaded to go 
to bed at nig^ht, and in the morning: dreaded to arise 
and encounter the social and atmospheric impurities 
of the day. Often the floors of ill- ventilated cabins 
were strewed with poor women, over whose faces was 
spread a deadly pallor, the little ones crawling round 
mothers too weak to move ; while in the steerage were 
sights so sickening ''as would put to blush the most 
inhuman land-monster of feudal or any other times. 
In selling tickets little attention was paid to limita- 
tions in numbers by law; ships with a capacity for 
500, would crowd in 1500, and often he who paid for 
a first class passage was thrust into the second cabin, 
and second cabin-passengers Into the steerage. Every 


mean artifice conceivable was resorted to for extort- 
ing money ; when the steamers were not half filled, 
full fare would be exacted for an empty berth, under 
threat of separating man and wife, or of assigning it 
to some unwelcome companion. Ice was the greatest 
luxury on board; but after receiving $300 or $600 
passage money, it was sold to the passenger nominally 
at twenty-five cents a pound, but the pounds were in 
reality but a half or quarter of a pound, and many 
with parched tongues felt they could not afford to 
pay the price. The voyage was looked forward to 
with dread, and undertaken with abhorrence. No 
one, at least at that time, selected this journey as a 
pleasure trip. It was the one dark spot in many a 
Californian's experience, remembered to this day as a 
nightmare. If such prayers be answered, — for curses 
are but left-handed prayers — then are the steamer 
potentates of those days roasting in regions hotter 
than any through which their ships ever sailed, for 
never since the world was were men so cursed. In 
justice to carriers and caterers, however, it must be 
admitted that travellers with their silly questions and 
frivolous complaints, often severely tax their patience; 
but this does not warrant curt replies and continued 
and systematic insults, such as were heaped upon 
helpless California passengers. Such conduct is cow- 
ardly, and in every way contemptible. Travellers 
will grumble and be unreasonable ; carriers and hotel- 
keepers must expect this. It must be admitted, more- 
over, that as a rule those complain most, wJio, as a 
right, should expect least. He who has the fewest 
comforts at home finds the most fault with the discom- 
forts of travel. In such cases the lowest class usually 
make the loudest noise with their cries of hardship 
and imposition. To-day, quiet, well-behaved passen- 
gers are almost always treated well, no matter how 
ill-organized and appointed the conveyance may be. 
There are standard maxims of travel, however, which 
it would be well to remember. Would you have 

CaL. Int. Poc. 9 


comfort in travelling, then submit with resignation to 
all ordinary impositions. Resign yourself at the out- 
set to the carrier as his victim, as the arbiter, for the 
time, of your fate. Do not expect land luxuries at 
sea ; man is a terrestrial and not an aqueous animal. 
Not the least in the catalogue of annoyances, fretful- 
ness, and complainings, the passengers bring upon them- 
selves. Go into the hot, fetid air of the second cabin 
and steerage, then be ashamed to nurse your discom- 
forts in your upper room. The smell of oil from the 
machinery, and filth from various quarters is nauseat- 
ing, it is true; but I have suffered more from the 
disgusting behavior of passengers than from filthy 
ships and discourteous emploj^es. Nor do I mean to 
say that Californians are especially bad travellers; as 
a rule they were, even in early times, orderly, quiet, 
and well-behaved ; and when time had tempered their 
spirits, hilarity and good humor prevailed. Other- 
wise how should 1500 men, women, and children 
have been able to exist, crowded into close quarters 
for nearly a month, and much of the time under a 
tropical sun? 

Every sensible man then setting out for California 
well knew that he should have to rough it; or, if he 
did not know it at the start he soon found it out, and 
he soon saw that he might as well begin to make the 
best of discomforts on ship board as any where else. 
Those so thinking yielded gracefully to what they saw 
was inevitable, and found that after all happiness does 
not depend so much on having things a little better 
than our neighbor, and that a little comfort, with a 
heart disposed to be contented, carries with it much 
happiness. Besides, all were certain of fortune, or at 
least felicity, the moment they reached San Francisco ; 
and so, in place of brooding over present privations, 
they rather dreamed of future plenty. 

There were notable exceptions to these systematic 
impositions, even on the Atlantic side; while on the 
Pacific, the rule was reversed. I have often been told 


by officers of the Pacific company that no one regretted, 
or more heartily condemned, the pohcy of the Atlantic 
company than their managers. From the first the 
service on the Pacific was in marked contrast to that 
upon the Atlantic; but not until the autumn of 1865 
were the managers of the Pacific Mail Steamship 
Company able to rid themselves of that influence 
which rested so long like an incubus on the line. At 
this time the control of the entire line passed into 
their hands, when the same courtesies and comforts 
were extended to travellers on the Atlantic as had 
hitherto been customary on the Pacific. The Pacific 
company had frequently overcrowded their steamers, 
but this sometimes was an act of charity rather than 
cruelty ; as, for example, when the California reached 
Panama on her first voyage, the cholera was raging 
there ; and this, together with the often ill-advised 
anxiety to reach the land of gold, had in many in- 
stances drawn the last dollar from the pockets of those 
congregated on the Isthmus; so that the steamer, 
which had accommodations for only 120 passengers, 
sailed with four times that number. As high as 
$1,200 was paid on this trip for a steerage passage. 

Gradually the service became perfected. Larger 
and yet more magnificent steamers were built from 
time to time, with promenade decks a sixteenth of a 
mile in length, and these were well appointed and ably 
officered. The line rose to the head of the world's 
marine, and became an honor to the American nation. 
From this time until the completion of the Pacific 
railway, it carried more passengers, at fairer rates, 
and, according to distance, varieties of climate, and 
numbers, with fewer discomforts than did ever another 
oceanic line. Four, five, and six thousand people 
passed and repassed monthly on its vessels, and mer- 
chandise was carried which, at from $45 to $75 a ton, 
aggregated millions of dollars freight-money. One 
reason why the passage on the Pacific can be made 
more pleasant is that the ships are built higher out of 


water, more like floating hotels, more spacious and 
commodious than those on the rougher Atlantic. 

When I reached New York, in February 1852, the 
rush for California still continued, though in a some- 
what modified form. A little regularity was emerging 
from the original chaos. Tlie steamship office was 
not now mobbed the night before the advertised day 
for selling tickets, nor were sailing vessels despatched 
daily for Chagres, to empty their passengers into that 
infectious climate, leaving them to complete their 
journey as best they might. For this, however, the 
ship owners were not to blame. So wild had been 
the excitement, so insane were men to get at this 
newly discovered gold, that thousands would recklessly 
take passage on any craft to Chagres, and trust their 
chances to get from Panamd to San Francisco. This 
they did knowing the berths on all the steamers were 
engaged for months to come, and that multitudes 
were waiting passage, both at New York and Panama ; 
but as it was every man for himself, each was sure 
that by some means, natural or supernatural, he would 
manage to get through. Before this, clamorous 
crowds used to collect in front of the ticket-office 
previous to the departure of every steamer, and there 
remain for days and nights, so as to be ready the mo- 
ment the door was opened. Sailing vessels were 
taken from the fishing or freighting service, and fitted 
up with a temporary deck below, the space between 
which and the upper deck formed a dormitory and 
saloon. Round the sides of this between-decks were 
three or four tiers of open berths, and in the centre 
piles of luggage, passengers' stores, rough, hanging 
shelves for tables, and boxes and benches for chairs, 
there being no such thing as caste among the passen- 
gers, or cabin, or separate apartments, save the cap- 
tain's room. And thus, like the boat of Charon, these 
vessels plied, and ere they landed their prurient 


freight on distant shores, fresh crowds awaited fresh 

There is always something sad, and much that is 
solemn, and to an unconcerned eye-witness no little 
of the grotesque, in the embarkation of passengers 
for a long voyage. It is next to dying or being mar- 
ried ; the future of it is all uncertain. Friends linger 
over the farewell as though it were the last, as indeed 
it is to some. Mother and child, sister and brother, 
husband and wife cling to each other in yet more 
frantic embrace, as if their heart-strings would snap, 
and all unconscious thus offer themselves as a spec- 
tacle for the amusement of the heartless and indiffer- 
ent, to say nothing of turning their pockets an easy 
prey to wicked professionals. 

Midst the turmoil of passengers, the jostlings of 
porters with trunks, baskets, and boxes which they 
deposit by stateroom doors, the bundles of clothing, 
mining utensils, perhaps a new gold-washing ma- 
chine or a forcing-pump scattered about the deck; 
the rushing hither and thitlier of seamen making 
ready for a start, and the general confusion attending 
embarking, the deck of a steamer an hour before she 
sails IS the best place in the world wherein to study 
human nature, as indeed is the wliole trip. Especially 
if you are a passenger and alone, with a philosophic 
turn of mind, you may look upon the polyglot assem- 
blage and noisy medley as in it but not of it. Glanc- 
ing from one to another you attempt to read the 
character and purpose of each ; involuntarily you find 
yourself speculating as to their several relations, who 
goes and who remains, and the relations of one to 

There is a melancholy young man, married but a 
week ; and there another who pales the mute agony 
of the first, for he has been married but a day, and 
their wives do not accompany them. Poor fellows! 
There is a conscious bride blushing her secret to every 


starer, while the young husband beside her tries inj 
vain to appear as if used to it. There is the lean and ] 
hungry, most bland and voluble lawyer, with long 
hooked nose and bald head, with sword cane and con- 
cealed deringer ; and there the hard headed and hard- 
hearted politician, who deals in the patriotism of the 
American people as the pawnbroker deals in the 
sufferings of the poor. This political huckster, hav- 
ing had in his time a monopoly of certain souls in 
certain districts, but having meanwhile sold his own 
soul to Satan many times on one side of the conti- 
nent, now seeks a new market on the other. There 
is the little scrawny avaricious old woman, probably 
the most disgusting, at the same time the most piti- 
able object on board, going out solitary and alone to 
wash or nurse or otherwise work and hoard, if per- 
adventure she may scrape together a little gold be- 
fore she dies. There is a family, father, mother, and 
daughter, the latter of that silly simpering age which 
fancies the eyes of all the world to be perpetually 
resting on herself; there the man of business with 
two females in charge, bustling about under his load 
of responsibility; there the sleepy young man, there 
the lack-a-daisical young woman — sheep among wolves 
— and there one, ill-mannered and awkward, fresh 
from clod-breaking and swine-tending, yet whose eyes 
flash intelligence and whose broad brow and firm lip 
show fifty years of determined perseverance and self- 
denial, if so be so much should stand between him 
and success. 

Noah's ark presented no more incongruous gather- 
ing. More than thirty different nations are repre- 
sented on this deck ; men and women of almost every 
land in Christendom and many beyond that line, of 
divers colors and strange speech, the lank smart Yan- 
kee, always at home; the tall bony hairy western 
man, uncultured yet thoughtful, who comes so far 
east to get a start for a farther west; cattle drivers 
from the north and negro drivers from the south ; 


parchment-armed dignitaries fresh from Washington 
squabble and bribery, and disappointed office-seekers; 
Texan rangers and placeless Mexico-fighters with 
occupation gone ; pompous, portly Britons ; sarcastic, 
scheming, polite Frenchmen ; sagacious, imperturbable 
Germans ; fiery Castilians ; omnipresent, silent Jews ; 
negroes, mulattoes, and quadroons, — mixtures of 
every shade uniting in their vain affectation and pre- 
tentious disposition all the evils of their diverse an- 
cestry with few inherited good qualities. And such 
diversity of costume, and cast of countenance — the 
Broadway dandy with tight pantaloons ; the profes- 
sional in black broadcloth, high shirt collar, and tall 
hat; the western hunting-shirt and wild-cat head- 
dress, and the loose butcher's jacket and greasy boots ; 
the boatman's pea-jacket and nor' wester ; the Mexi- 
can's blanket and sombrero, and all profusely orna- 
mented with pistols, bowie-knives, and rifles slung 
from belt and shoulder. Here is a man with musket 
and bayonet, and yonder an apparent attache of some 
company organized for fighting for gold, with an 
alarm trumpet tied to his neck. And in their feat- 
ures you may read of wit and of cloudy brains, of 
merriment and of gravity, of piety and of blasphemy, 
of honesty and of speculation. Military officers en- 
liven the scene with their brass-buttoned uniforms, 
and faces glowing under the influence of the good 
things of life. 

One wonders where they all came from. Evidently 
some are fresh from the soft endearments of home, 
fresh from the embrace of mother, sister, or newly 
made wife, alone in that motley company without the 
dust of distance yet upon them, whose eyes moisten, 
and cheeks blanch, and hearts sadden at thoughts 
of untried waters and lands, which are to separate 
them from loved ones, perhaps forever; others are as 
reckless and indifferent to their future as the hardened 
sinner is of heaven, men who never had a home and care 
Uttlo whether their f^e!i resb oa ship or shore, or tread 


the. soil of America or Australia, so that their domi- 
nant passion finds solace. Thus the conglomerate 
and cosmopolitan character of the passengers give us 
a foresight of what we may expect on reaching our 

As the hour for departure approaches the confusion 
increases. Loaded carriages drive hastily up to the 
gang way, discharge their contents, and drive away. 
The mails come down in heavy wagons and are taken 
on board. Excited passengers rush hither and 
thither, knocking against one another, looking after 
lost baggage, hunting missing friends and searching 
for their rooms. The wharves and shipping are 
crowded to see us off. The cries of seamen and 
porters mingle with the hoarse roar of steam; the 
gong sounds for visitors to go ashore, hasty '' good- 
byes" and "God bless you" rise from full hearts and 
fall from quivering lips; the captain mounts the 
paddle-box, the gang-plank is drawn ashore, orders to 
"cast off the hawser" and "turn ahead" are given, the 
ponderous walking-beam moves, the paddle-wheels 
turn, and promptly at twelve o clock, midst the cheers 
of the gathered multitude, the waving of hats and 
handkerchiefs, and the flashing of fun and fancy and 
sentiment from upturned laughing and liquid faces, 
the ship creeps from her berth, turns her back upon 
the land hallowed by all the ties of birth and educa- 
tion, and with her gun booming the last parting, 
glides down the stream, winds through the forest of 
shipping, past islands and grassy slopes beaming with 
happy homes, and shoots out into the ocean toward 
that future of mystery and trembling expectation 
which assumes shapes so fantastic in the minds of 
those on board. 

On our way down the bay, tickets were examined 
in order to detect stowaways; three aspiring but 
impecunious unfortunates were taken in custody and 
shoved into the boat with the pilot when he left the 

OUT AT SEA. 137 

steamer at Sandy Hook. One covered his conceal- 
ment so completely as to elude the searchers and 
remained hidden until next day, when, on making his 
appearance he was set to work in the coal bunkers for 
his passage. Forgotten adieus and farewell letters 
were sent back by the pilot, then with Titan arms 
our ship struck out upon her course through the 
waves of the Atlantic. 

Just as we were going out we met the steamer with 
returning Californians coming in. Cheer followed 
cheer in noisy recognition. With what varied 
emotions the loud greetings were given! On the 
one side hopeful enthusiasm, and the inspiration of 
bright prospects, glad to be off and eager to make the 
venture; on the other, mingled success and failure, 
some with ruined health, some with ruined hojoes, 
some brim-full of happiness, while all their broad 
bosoms swelled at the thought of placing foot once 
more on native soil — all glad to be back, to be out 
of the wilderness, the wilderness of land and the 
wilderness of water. 

Order rapidly evolved from the confusion ; all settled 
quietly into place. Some sat apart and smoked and 
thought of those left behind; others grouped and 
talked of the time to come. While thus abstracted 
an insidious and subtle influence appeared to settle 
upon the voyagers. The air, it seemed to me, was 
impregnated with it, and I could feel it creeping up 
from the water through the ship's timbers, through 
the planks on which I trod, and into my feet and 
bones. I noticed the ship staggered a little in her 
gait, and the promenaders likewise staggered, and a 
peculiar expression of smiling discomfort overspread 
the yellowish-white faces of some. Land and day- 
light disappeared, and we were alone with darkness 
and the ocean. 

Night shut us in with angry storm-clouds, and 
closed us round with white-capped waves that curled 
their raised crests and hissed defiance on the ponder- 


ous wheels that beat them into foam, wheels striving 
with the contending flood, on one side deep in water 
and on the other vainly grasping at the rushing tide 
below. The jerkings now and then of the ship 
betokened a rising sea. Cigars and sentiment were 
abandoned, for here was the beginning of a long unrest. 
Neither sighings, nor the quickening heart-beat of 
hope, neither the memories of loved ones left behind, 
nor the brilliant aspirations of the future, nor even 
the solemn thought of thus being brought into the 
more immediate presence of my maker could prevent 
the rising within my bosom of sensations foreign to 
meditation. I tried to appear indiflerent ; as the evil 
increased I attempted even to smile, but it was a 
ghastly business. 

As the wind grew boisterous, and the motion of 
the vessel more palpably uneven, all on board, save 
the favored few who had neither conscience nor 
stomach, sought retirement. Some thought to brave 
down the unbidden rising within by moving briskly 
about and nibbling a cracker instead of eating supper 
and going to bed. "You can walk it off," they said, 
''do not give up to it." I noticed, now and then, that 
these would suddenly disappear, and when next seen 
in their determined perambulations, they looked paler 
and not altogether happy. Some sat down to table 
and with affected nonchalance and flourish of knife 
and fork ,and pronounced orders for food, courageously 
began to eat; but soon a cloud overspread their 
faatures, a careworn expression as of some internal 
trouble, until at last sickness overcoming sensitive- 
ness, one person after another would rise hastily 
from the table, clasp one hand on his mouth and the 
other on his waistcoat, dart for the door, make for 
the guards, and there unbosom his burdened breast 
to the fishes. Indeed, my own food was as restless 
within me as was Poseidon in the bowels of his 
father Cronos. 

Few remained on deck that ni^ht to witness the 



glories of the setting sun ; the stars were sought be- 
low, the via lactea streamed over the ship's sides, and 
the study of Neptune's palace under the sea appeared 
far more fascinating than the study of Orion and the 

Sea-sickness is a great leveller. It prostrates pride, 
purges man of his conceit, makes him humble as a 
little child ; it is specially conducive to repentance arid 
after repentance to resignation. I know of nothing, 
after the first fear of death has passed away, that 
makes one so ready to die. A great wave places its 
back under the ship and lifts you up, up, into the very 
clouds ; then it stands from under and you go down, 
down, with a tickling sensation within, until you stop 
your breath waiting for the vessel to strike upon the 
bottom of the sea. Then comes a mingled pitching 
and rolling, when the innermost loses cohesion, oscil- 
lates, rotates and upheaves, when the foundations of 
the great deep are broken up within you, when the 
strong man bows himself as it were a woman grinding 
at a mill, and the mourners go about the cabin like 
apocalyptic angels, wailing as they pour their vials 
out; and by this unrest and the revels of devils with- 
in, the image of God is degraded into that of a self- 
acting hydraulic pump. The mind becomes concerned, 
the brow* overcast ; it is like clapping on the head a 
hope-extinguisher, and squeezing the body at once of 
every rest and comfort flesh aspires to ; as if the inner 
lining of the man were rolled up and wrung out down 
to the very dregs of gall and bitterness. Then the 
body assumes a doubling posture, the spinal column 
becomes flaccid and limpy, the victim is filled with a 
desire to sink to the floor or lie prostrate ; manhood 
oozes out at the fingers' ends, and Caesar becomes like 
a sick girl. 

And all the while those who escape these miseries 
regard this agony as ludicrous in the extreme. 
It is a capital joke to see the strong man brought low, 
to hear him swear and storm at every thing and every 


body with impotent fury in the intervals between his 
retching fits ; to see the pale despairing women strewed 
about the cabin, on carpet, chairs and sofas, attended 
by the stewardess with her gruel bowls, and fizzing 
powders, and lemons, and toast and tea; to hear all 
day the groans and moans and gurgling laments in 
every quarter, to have the night made hideous by the 
loud alarms of bowel-wrenchings and belchings that 
might awaken the seven sleepers ; and then to see tl:e 
tables deserted and the quandary of those who try to 
determine which is least difficult, to keep in bed, to 
dress, or to eat — all this is very amusing to those happy 
souls who pet and plume themselves because they are 
not subject to such horrible sensations, or compelled 
to assist at such unpleasing scenes. 

This rocking sensation has something strange in it; 
it affects different persons so differently. Some it 
drives well-nigh mad, with sensations akin to those of 
the novice in gambling who loses his last half-dollar 
at monte, giving its victim, if not death, resignation 
to it ; others it sends off into peaceful and long con- 
tinued sleep bestowing rest and contentment ; others 
not only are not sea-sick but are made hilarious by it. 
These latter, as they pass from room to room and see 
the wan, woe-begotten faces of the vomiters, become 
extremely satisfied with themselves. " Oh ! no, I am 
never sick," says Jenkins, "I like it, it agrees with 
me; I really enjoy it, my appetite is never better than 
when it is a little breezy ; only one other beside the 
captain and myself at the table ; roast du'^.k, tough as 
ox-hide " — and so he rattled his nauseous boasts to 
the infinite disgust of prostrate listeners. 

And as in the sensitive breast there is usually a sense 
of weakness and shame attending this evil, so it is held 
by a certain class a cardinal virtue to escape it. Noth- 
ing so inspires a man with a good opinion of himself 
and his internal belongings as to be able to smoke and 
whistle and carry an undaunted front when the liead^ 
of his comrades are horizontally inclined, and their 


bosoms heaving with the heaving sea ; or when they 
are seized with a sudden interest in the study of ich- 
thyology, and strain their eyes in untimely peering 
into the troubled waters. It makes a man glad to 
see his companions sea-sick ; it makes him rejoice in 
his superiority, to delight in their woe; he laughs 
that he is better than they. Then the shame of it to 
the miserables who suffer. Of all who remained cab- 
ined and berthed for the two days succeeding our de- 
parture, few could be found who had been sea-sick at 
all. Some had had a headache, others were fatigued 
and needed rest ; some were not hungry, and then it 
was too much trouble to dress. Of all maladies, the 
one for which its victims are least to blame, they ap- 
pear the most ashamed of, while colds and fevers 
brought on by foolish indiscretions are unblushingly 

Many have made sea- voyages who suffered severely 
at first, but afterward very little ; although they 
could still be seasick in rough weather, they knew 
better how to take care of themselves. There 
appears to be no universal remedy for this hateful 
and hated nausea; some find relief in iced champagne, 
others in brandy, soda-water, tea, gruel, codfish, or 
fruit. Much depends upon the state of the system, 
and no two are to be treated exactly alike. In some 
individual cases, the secret is to find that place and po- 
sition where one can be most at rest. Few ever suc- 
ceed in combating the evil, being always forced to yield 
vanquished. Hence it is on going to sea, the first 
thing to do is to arrange one's room and effects so that 
one may be prepared for it ; as a certain nobleman used 
deliberately to make ready his bed before getting 
drunk. On this steamer my berth was near the 
hatchway, and at times the sun poured in upon me 
the full volume of his rays, which with the motion of 
the ship, long fasting, and a compound of villainous 
smells ranker than Falstaff found in Mrs Ford s linen, 
made me almost wild with fever and suffocation. 


Then, with Gonzalo, would I have given a thousand 
furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground. I would 
have given my chance of heaven, to say nothing of 
California, to have been out of it, anywhere but there. 
This is why middle-aged and elderly men endure the 
hardships of a voyage to California better than young 
men and boys, their physique is more fixed, their 
minds more evenly balanced, and they know better 
how to make themselves comfortable. My father 
informs me that on his passage from Pa nam ^, many 
young men died of the Isthmus fever, but not a single 
person over forty years of age was ill with any disease. 
The next day the sea was higher, but the morning 
after it was evidently growing quieter. Following 
the throes of sickness comes a mental exaltation, giv- 
ing birth to new thoughts. Never have I felt my brain 
so active as while lying bracing myself in my berth 
for days, until my bones ached, and during which 
time I would be up only long enough to rush to the 
table for my meals, and rush back again to keep the 
uneasy food quiet. Thus dull intellects are whetted 
into keenness by the asperities of the journey, and so 
made ready to cut their way through the difficulties 
awaiting them. Moreover, this malady is the best 
cure in the world for love-sickness, as I have noticed . 
in the pensive youth who had left his inamorata be- 
hind, and in solitary young women going to Califor- 
nia to be married. Indeed, upon the homcepathic 
hypothesis that simdiia similibus curantur, this malady 
is likewise an antidote for bankruptcy, conjugal infi- 
delity, or any ill flesh is heir too. The heart and the 
stomach cannot both exercise the mastery at the same 
time. Overwhelmed at the beginning of the voyage 
with the merciless fate that crucified all fond endear- 
ments, and indifferent to terrestrial affairs; as the 
rising wind grows stronger, and the rolling waves 
mount higher, slowly the dominator lifts passion from 
the seat of the aflfections, and places it just below, 
where it plays havoc with the organs of supply. 


I once knew a strong-minded woman who avowed 
she could put down sea-sickness by force of her will. 
*'It is a mere fancy," she used to explain, '^you feel 
yourself swaying and rocking, and see others sick, 
and take it for granted you are going to be sick your- 
self; and so you are. I'll none of it." Afterward 
the lady went to sea. Whether at her command the 
wind and the waves were calm, whether the still 
small voice within was quiet, she did not say ; but 
never afterward did she so much as intimate that 
sea-sickness could be brow-beaten. 

At last the agony is over. The sea calms some- 
what, and after two days of rolling and dissolution, 
pale, gaunt forms crawl from tumbled berths and dis- 
ordered rooms and eye each other; staggering about 
as they first attempt to use their feet, grasping posts, 
and railings, finally settling down to languid lounging 
in high-back easy-chairs, and on benches. Thoughts 
of feeding amse ; appetite grows apace, and seats at 
table fill up. With return of appetite comes some 
degree of amiability. The whitened faces put on a 
cheerful look as they multiply on deck, the females 
manifesting their convalescence by renewed interest 
in their toilets, and in the dresses of their neighbors. 
Under these auspices if not harmony, at least general 
good conduct prevails. 

And now the voyage proper begins. Taking your 
ticket, which indicates room and berth, to the office 
of the purser, the civil commandant, though not al- 
ways a civil man, you receive for it a table check, 
whose number designates your seat for the voyage. 
Notables and favorites are placed at the captain's 
table. Women travelling alone in charge 'of the cap- 
tain often fare better than when their husbands are 
with them. Aside from the captain's table, all is 
managed upon the most democratic principles. The 
table is usually ill supplied and ill served, though not 
always. Table tickets are given to prevent a scramble 


for place, which, before the seats are allotted, some- 
times rises to a downright fight whenever the bell 
rings. I never saw the Darwinian theory more aptly 
illustrated than before these table tickets were given 
out ; in a voyage to California, the survival of the fit- 
test was a foregone conclusion. At meal time partic- 
ularly the animal was let loose ; the strong prevailed, 
and (jbtained a seat at table, while the weak, or such 
as did not choose to exercise their strength if they had 
it, waited, and took what was left. 

As the strong man fed, he lapsed into a state of 
semi-unconsciousness; his manners were unstudied, 
and his abandon perfect. He could sweep the dishes 
of their contents, far as the arm could reach, quicker 
than a prairie fire sweeps the ground of grass. The 
movements of a starved dog over the cat's saucer of 
milk were slow as compared with his movements. He 
appeared wholly unaware of the presence of women 
and children who likewise were hungry for food, 
though I have seen females who could fight for their 
survival with the best of the men. When his hunger 
was satisfied, he came to himself, gazed wistfully 
about, picked his teeth with his pocket-knife, and 
slowly retired. 

Steamers for the Californian passenger trade were 
usually built with three or four decks ; they were at 
this time all side-wheel and carried small masts. 
Sails were sometimes spread, though little depended 
upon them in navigating the ship. The larger ves- 
sels employed from seventy-five to one hundred men, 
officers, seamen, and servants. Of all the employes 
the firemen were the greatest sufferers ; working be- 
fore a hot furnace down in the hold, they were fre- 
quently so overcome of heat that they had to be 
packed in ice to cool them off. On the upper deck, 
above the ship's hull, was a double row of state-rooms, 
with ample space between them and the guards for 
sitting and walking, and for the management of the 
ship. On this deck, forward, were also the pilot- 



house, and the rooms of the captain and first officers. 
State-rooms had usuall}^ three narrow berths, though 
some had but two, while others had six. The pleas- 
antest rooms were those on the upper deck, though 
the rooms below were larger, and less exposed in 
stormy weather. Over this deck, fore and aft, awn- 
ings were spread hi warm weather, under which pas- 
sengers spent most of their time. Below the main 
deck was the dining saloon, used also for flirting and 
cards when the tables were not set, and in which di- 
vine service was held on Sunday. On either side of 
this saloon was a row of state-rooms. The purser's 
office was usually on this deck, midships, as also were 
the second and third officers' rooms, the engineer's 
room, the barber-shop, bar, butcher's shop, and cook's 
galley. Below this deck, aft, the port-holes often 
below the surface of the water, slept the second-class 
passengers, and on the same floor, forward, the third 
class, or steerage. Passengers were divided into three 
classes: first cabm, who enjoyed state-rooms and sep- 
arate tables, second cabin, whose deck below was badly 
ventilated, and the floor covered with standing berths, 
or open sleeping-shelves, having narrow passages be 
tween them, and the steerage passengers forward, 
above and below. The second-cabin passengers had 
free access to all parts of the ship, the same as those 
of the first cabin ; they took their meals in the saloon 
of the first cabin, eating before or after the first-cabin 
passengers. The steerage passengers were confined 
to the several decks of the forward part of the ship. 
The steamers all carried a surgeon or a doctor, but 
he was usually neither competent nor attentive. 
Notice was posted forbidding the wearing of deadly 
weapons, and the discharge of fire-arms ; nor was any 
to appear at table without his coat. Notice of lati- 
tude and longitude and distance run was given each 
day. A good run was two hundred and fifty miles in 
twenty-four hours. 

Chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, sheep, swine, and 

Cal. Int. Poc. 10 


cattle were carried on board, and butchered as re- 
quired. Meals were kept going in the saloon nearly 
ail the time, as when the ship was crowded three or 
four tables were set for each meal, so that breakfast 
crowded on luncheon, and luncheon on dinner. On 
this trip there were nine tables in all, but I have fre- 
quently seen the tables all laid twelve times each day. 
The steerag'e passengers were treated more like beasts 
than human beings ; to the shipowners they were but 
so much freight, to be carried at so much a head. 
Their sufferings, and whether they lived or died, were 
'matters of their own. They were bedded like swine, 
and fed like swine. Instead of a trough, a broad, 
board shelf was suspended from the ceiling, which 
served as a table, greasy and clothless, furnished with 
tin plates and cups, and pewter spoons, and on which 
were placed huge pans or kettles of food, stews, beans, 
and the like. Droves, one after another, were let in 
through a gate, and after they had fed a while they 
were driven out by their sooty overseers. 

Out of the regions of ice and snow, out of boister- 
ous waves and cold stinging air, we pass Cape Hat- 
teras, and dropping down the Florida coast and across 
the gulf stream, sail into an unruffled sea, into the 
soft, southern, aromatic air, down into the seaweeds, 
and through the haunts of nautilus, and flying fish, 
which in their attempts to scale the ship often drop 
upon the deck; down among the ever-green isles 
where were enacted the initial tragedies of Ameri- 
can race-extermination. Spring succeeds winter and 
summer spring. The polestar pales behind us. The 
air first softens, then grows languid, and finally pul- 
sates with heat. Flannels and heavy clothing are laid 
aside ; clean calico dresses and summer bonnets take 
the place of woolen gowns and hoods, and the experi- 
enced male travellers sport their white pantaloons, 
linen coats, and straw hats. Out under a burning 
sun, and into hot sea-breezes, and from shivering in 


furs and overcoats we swelter in garments of thinnest 
texture. Sea-sick sleepers crawl from their cabins 
and stretch themselves about the deck. Northern 
energy with northern frosts are melted out of the 
man ; mind and muscle relax their tension ; there is a 
general letting down of the system, lassitude and 
ennui steal over the senses ; perspiration oozes from 
every pore and stands in great beads upon the sur- 
face, or flows off in rivulets. Clothes are saturated, 
and respiration lengthens and becomes more difficult. 
Even reading and card-playing are abandoned as re- 
quiring too much exertion. Scandal- making sets in ; 
women of easy virtue grow bold, and pimpish men 
throw off reserve and flaunt the true colors of their 

In rough weather passengers are very quiet ; it is 
useless to try to out-rant the ocean, and for this un- 
doubtedly the ship's officers are thankful, often pre- 
ferring the unevenness of the sea to the ruffled temp- 
ers of the hundreds on board. But when the brist- 
ling waves subside, the voice of the chronic grumbler 
is heard abusing ship, captain, and all his surround- 
ings. His room is small, there are too few hairs in 
the mattress, and too many cockroaches between the 
mildewed sheets; some restless fellow has the upper 
berth, or some squalling children the under. At 
table, with prominent lower jaw, and open monkey 
mouth, and sharp teeth, and low forehead with lateral 
scowl, he keeps up an incessant growling, except 
during the time required to sweep the food from the 
table into his capacious mouth. The bread is sour, 
the butter rank, the fowl and venison insipid, the beef 
tough, and so on. When those of this category have 
cursed themselves comfortable, they take to cracking 
jokes, singing, and gaming. 

Here a raw countryman, now become an ambitious 
searcher for knowledge, earnestly applies ' himself 
to the improvement of his little talent by studying 
certain phenomena which attract his attention about 


the ship. Rushing in where angels fear to tread, into 
the august presence of omnipotence itself, he boldly 
addresses the Thunderer, the captain of the craft, 
who if he happens to be occupied gives in return a 
deep-toned curse and a shove which sends the appli- 
cant headlonof elsewhere for information. Nothinir 
daunted, but a little more wary in the future, before 
he leaves the ship he knows the difference betAveen 
bow and stern, and lee and weatherside, learns to 
count time by the bells, and to play seven-up for the 

I noticed, after we were fairly out at sea, a certain 
habitual sarcastic expression on the face of many, 
particularly those of the ruder sort, as if the wearer 
wished to cover his sense of inferiority. Such are 
the men, who, seasoned by experience, and having in 
reality gained a better opinion of themselves, but 
making less show of it, on their return from California 
fall victims to professional pickpockets, who regularly 
plied their trade between New York and Aspinwall, 
endeavoring to win the confidence of returning Cali- 
fornians so as to fleece them on going ashore. Some 
there were on this trip out who had been to California 
before, men of slow demeanor, with slouched hat and 
slouched gait, of free and easy speech, and comfortable 
carriage, and self-satisfied countenance, red-shirted, 
perhaps, as they were proud of the distinction, and 
these were looked up to as superior beings by all 
raw recruits. Some sat the livelong day gazing list- 
lessly on the water, or staring stupidly at their fel- 
lows ; others restlessly wandered about with a sharp 
anxious inquiring look; some set themselves up as 
sailors and talked knowingly of ships, others discussed 
politics, religion, and monetary affairs, and many had 
much to say of the land and people to which they 
were going. Among them you might readily point 
out the chronic talker, the chronic listener, and the 
chronic laugher, which latter with his asinine guffaw 
at every silly repartee was the most disgusting of all. 



Yet these men were all of them brim full of fire, even 
those made most stupid by sea and tropical air. You 
might see it in their quick jerky movements when 
molested ; in the firm step, the flashing eye, the com- 
pressed lip. Each felt himself to be in the path of 
duty, felt that he was doing the fashionable thing, the 
right thing. They were sacrificial ly ordained, and 
were elevated by the call ; they had given up ail for 
gold, and their thoughts and dreams and even their 
breath of life, were golden. 

Steamship life is not so dull as it is disgusting ; not 
so much monotony as morbidity. On board clipper 
ships, which carry few passengers, tliere is much more 
dullness, but there is less social gangrene, less morose- 
ness and chronic distemper. There is a difterence 
between sameness and dullness. Every day of a sea- 
voyage must be necessarily much the same, every 
day may be even disagreeable, but no day need be 
necessarily dull, and no person need necessarily be 
overcome of ennui. There is much to observe, much 
to learn. Aside from books, every man has a biogra- 
phy worthy the knowledge of every other man, could 
its essence be extracted. Some study Spanish, some 
read, some play euchre, whist, or solitaire, chess or 
back -gammon, some write letters or keep a journal, 
and not a few flirt. A sea voyage is love's opportunity ; 
she whose temper can pass triumphantly the oceanic 
ordeal is woithy Amadis of Gaul. Many a play at 
love has ended with the voyage in marriage. Some 
of those who left the fair one behind felt their love to 
some extent evaporate with sea air and sea-sickness ; 
others still studied the chronometer for the precise 
moment which should bring their angel to the ap- 
pointed star-gazing. Here and there a newly married 
couple may be seen lost in each other, her head upon 
his shoulder, his arm around her waist, indifferent to 
remark and oblivious to derisive smiles ; but for one such 
pair you may see a dozen who no less publicly display 


their hate, and manifest no more dehcacy in disclosing 
their mutual infelicities. Home-sickness, oftener felt 
than spoken, sometimes overtakes unfledged wanderers. 
On this voyage, just as we were passing the Baliama 
islands, one man was so overcome that he could not 
repress his tears as he begged the captain to put him 
on board the first returning ship. '' I acted hastily," 
he cried, '^ I did wrong in leaving wife and children. 
But I will make amends ; let me return and work for 
them till I die." In time, this man, who was a poor me- 
chanic, became reconciled ; but I could not help think- 
ing how many hearts had throbbed well-nigh to 
bursting with secret regrets. 

The fifth day out was Sunday, when the Episcopal 
service was read by the purser. Sabbath is never 
Sabbath again after spendmg one on a California 
steamer. The sacred charm is broken, the hallowed 
influence of the day forever gone, placed among the 
things that were, only to be called up in the memory, 
and pondered over, and wondered at. Here Sunday 
is much like other days ; there is little to remind one 
of the deep celestial quiet of the home Sabbath. 

There was a little less card-playing and novel read- 
ing ; now and then a bible or a prayer-book might be 
seen, and sacred hymns supplied the place of negro 
melodies. But home pictures would appear painted 
on the imagination deeper and stronger than on other 
days. Evening songs fell on hearts tuned to the old 
familiar strains, sending tears to the eyes of many a 
listener. Many there were in body rocked on the 
Atlantic that in spirit were back by the old fireside. 
The loud laugh fell on the ear, but the heart heard 
only the chiming of the village bells ; the merry jest 
went round, but ere it fell it turned to a precept pro- 
nounced by the familiar voice from the old church 
pulpit ; the rippling of water was but the murmurs of 
mother and brother talking of the absent one. Con- 
science draws fine lines sometimes ; there was one man 
who would not take a hand at cards because it was 

HABANA. 131 

Sunday, but he did not mind risking a dollar on the 

Came in sight late that night, or, rather early the 
next morning, the fair island of Cuba. I dressed my- 
self and went out. It was a magnificent moonlight 
night and the sea was smooth as glass. There was a 
soft tropical haze in the atmosphere, and as, on our 
approach, the mountains of the interior assumed form, 
and the green hills, and white beach, and coral reefs 
— almost buried in foliage— -the waving palms of the 
hill-tops and the orange groves nestling in quiet val- 
leys were more plainly distinguished, the view pre- 
sented was ravishing in the extreme. Arrived off 
Habana an hour before daylight, we came to a stop 
and lay too under the guns of the Moro Castle, where 
we were obliged to wait until sunrise before entering 
the harbor, such being the rule. Then, just as the 
sun lifted its warm tints above the horizon, scattering 
the sky-painted imagery that forecast the dawn, we 
turned round the dark bluff, under the frowning battle- 
ments of the fortress, gun answering gun in courteous 
salute, while far over the sea swept the morning music 
from the fort, like blasts of the archangel sounding 
the opening of a new world. As we slowly steamed 
up the channel, on the right of which lay the city, 
with its terraced houses of many colors, blue, yellow, 
and red, its quaint cathedral piles and glittering spires, 
our course was arrested by pompous health and cus- 
toms officers, who, after performing their duties to their 
dignified satisfaction, allowed us to proceed. We soon 
came to anchor before the city, and the passengers 
were permitted to land. 

Pygmalion's statue was no more lost in won- 
derment than was I. To my inexperienced gaze all 
was as marvelous as if I had been lifted from another 
world and put down upon this spot. There was the 
voluptuous morning sun rolling in an aerial sea of 
crimson flanked by silver-burnished clouds ; the wanton 
air playing with the feathered palms, and breathing 


the perfumed incense of orange groves ; and here a 
wonderful city ghttering beside a glassy sea, a city 
famous for its cigars, its fountains, its magnificent 
opera house and mosaic mirrored counting house, its 
narrow streets and broad shaded carriage-way and 
Isabel Segunde promenade, its grand plaza, cafes and 
brilliant gas lights, its moonlight music, and gay 
military officers, and dark-eyed senoritas, and its two- 
wheeled volantes — the hansom cab of London and 
the gondola of Venice— drawn by a small, scrawny 
horse, harnessed to the ends of two long poles ten 
feet and over from the vehicle. The tail of the ani- 
mal is braided so as to leave it at the mercy of tor- 
menting flies, and besides drawing the gig with its 
freight of fat Cubans or fair senoritas, the poor beast 
must carry a driver with large jingling spurs and 
heavy club. If more than one beast is attached to a 
volante, the horses are usually driven tandem. 

To the the bishop's garden, the popular drive, 
most of our passengers went for the day — past villas 
and chateaus buried in blooming: foliag^e, throug^h 
avenues bordered by hedges of roses, and shaded by 
orange-trees bending beneath their golden fruit. At 
night we listened to the band playing in the plaza, 
and watched the half- veiled senoritas, and sombre 
looking men and smoking women and naked boys, 
moving noisily about beneath the shrubbery and 
under the glowing moon which, mirrored on the 
glassy water of the harbor, made it shine like a sea 
of silver. Siempre fiel isla de Cuba; la loya mas 
brilliante en la carona d' Espaiia — heaven be with 
thee, as thou in my youthful fancy appeared almost 
like heaven. 

The passengers, baggage, mails, and freight of the 
George Law were here transferred to the steamer 
Georgia, and day and evening were consumed in the 
operation. At length, worn out by unaccustomed 
fatigue, tired even of a tropical paradise, we shoul- 
dered a quantity of cigars which we had purchased 



and went on board — settling the export duties, under 
direction of the seller, by giving a half dollar to the 
official stationed on board, who pocketed it amidst 
vehemently gesticulated protestations, which I took 
to be a sort of mock battle between conscience and 
duty ; or it may be he deemed the bribe insufficient to 
satisfy virtue so august. Leaving him to reconcile 
matters as best he might I hurried to bed, and when 
I awoke in the morning the lovely isle had vanished 
like a dream, and we were far on our way toward 
Jamaica, that is to say, the Land of Wood and 

Kingston, where we touched for coals, should be 
the black man's paradise. A negro pilot pretended 
to guide our vessel into the harbor, a negro port- 
master pompously manipulated the mails, black shop- 
keepers- importuned passers by, black hackmen 
clamored for a fare, black prostitutes smiled for cus- 
tomers, black fruit-venders and parrot-sellers crowded 
the avenues leading from the wharf, dashing black 
dandies flourished their white-headed canes, squads of 
olack soldiers swelled in the Britisher's red coat, the 
regimental band which played in the park was com-, 
posed of some fifty fine performers — black ; black 
women, about fifty in number, some of them young 
girls, did the coaling, carrying on their heads a tub or 
half barrel holding sixty pounds of coals, marching 
up and down the gang-plank with ease and alacrity, 
accompanying their apparently laborious duty with 
loud laughter, song, and dancing, while the men sat 
by and smoked and smiled approval. Swarms of 
polished ebony bipeds, male and female, perambulated 
the streets, smoking their long cigars, and familiarly 
cracking their rude jokes with the passengers. -Race 
distinction, if there be any but such as is merely phy- 
sical, seems to be here reversed, the white man, as a 
class, occupying about the position of the black man 
in other parts. Literally, a white man here is as 


good as a black one so long as he behaves himself. 
Colored freeholders received the elective franchise as 
early as 1830; after 1838 they could sit in the local 
legislature, by which qualification 1853 saw one black 
man in the council and fifteen in the assembly. Judg- 
ing from the muscle on arm and leg, and the loads 
the women carry on their heads, this West India 
climate agrees with the African. 

Putting to sea, in three days thereafter we an- 
chored before the ruins of the old fort of San Lo- 
renzo commandino^ the entrance to Chagres river. 



What deem'd they of the future or the past ? 
The present, like a tyrant, held them fast. 

— Byron. 

The isthmus of Panamd, or, as it was anciently 
called, Darien, must ever command the interest of the 
civilized world. Aside from the charm which history 
throws over this region, as the bar which baffled the 
last attempt of the great admiral to find a passage to 
India, as the point where were planted the first perma- 
nent Spanish settlements on the North American conti- 
nent, as the window of the bi-continental Cordilleras 
which, opened by the hand of Yasco Nunez de Balboa, 
let in from the great South Sea a flood of light illumi- 
nating well nigh to blindness all Europe, as the initial 
point to many a marauding expedition, as the scene 
of divers piratical attacks, and local revolutions, — I 
say aside from historic associations, this, narrow strip 
of earth must ever be regarded with attention by all 
the nations of the world, presenting, as it does, the 
smallest impediment to inter-oceanic communication 
and an uninterrupted pathway from Europe to Asia, 
sailing to the westward. Said Walter Raleigh to 
Elizabeth, *' Seize the isthmus of Darien, and you will 
wrest the keys of the world from Spain." Here the 
continent was first spanned by iron, and here is being 
dug the first inter-oceanic canal. 

At the begfinning: of the new trafiic arisincr from 
the discovery of gold in California, the natives of the 
Isthmus were civil, inoffensive, and obliging. This 



state of things was quickly changed, however. It 
was a new experience for them, this contact with 
Ano;lo- Americans of the ruder sort, strong^, shrewd, 
and overbearing, too often impudent and m suiting, 
too many of them unprincipled, with a sprinkling of 
unmitigated rascality. The mild and ignorant tropi- 
cal man shrank from them at first, then grew sullen 
and suspicious, and finally fell to cheating in return, 
though never able in this last accomplishment to 
equal his bright exemplar. 

Two pilgrims landing at Chagres from the steam- 
ship Isthmus, in January 1849, the Quaker City then 
lying in the harbor, hired bongos for themselves and 
baggage, proceeded up the river to the head of navi- 
gation, then transferred their belongings to the backs 
of mules, riding one between them, alternately, and 
so proceeded to Panamd. This was then the usual 
way. The steamer California was there, having just 
come round Cape Horn, and having on board some 
sixty passengers from Valparaiso. 

There was quite a panic among the travellers, sev- 
eral thousands of whom were collected there, waiting 
for an opportunity to proceed to San Francisco by any 
conveyance whatever. There was much imprudence 
among them. The excessive use of intoxicating liquors, 
eating tropical fruits to which they were unaccustomed, 
and heavy rainfalls, contributed to develop sickness 
among them. It was difficult to obtain accommoda- 
tions; people were crowded, and many died from 
cholera and fever. Many of the persons on the Isth- 
mus at the time had tickets only to that point, and 
tickets from there to San Francisco, for deck passage, 
were sold as high as six hundred dollars. The steam- 
ers could not furnish accommodations for so many 
persons. The steamship compan^^ allowed a certain 
number of tickets to be drawn, but there was much 
trickery in this. In order that there might be fair 
play, some of the outsiders were called in ; but gam- 
blers and other improper persons having been selected. 



their friends were the favored ones. During all this 
time the cholera was playing havoc among the emi- 
grants as well as among the residents of Panamd. It 
is a fact that hundreds of the former were victims of 
that scourge, and of malignant fevers, and that nearly 
the whole black population of the Isthmus was also 
swept away by the epidemic, which lasted until 1851. 
In the course of time, ample facilities for the transpor- 
tation of passengers from the Isthmus were provided ; 
but the above data, and those given further on, con- 
vey an idea of what the first seekers after California 
gold by way of the Isthmus had to undergo, until the 
railway, commenced in 1850, was completed, in Janu- 
ary 1855o 

Seven miles of that great undertaking — great con- 
sidering the time and the place — the Panama railway, 
was accomplished when, on the first of March, 1852, 
we dropped anchor off Chagres; and to afford the 
company due encouragement, those seven miles must 
be travelled over, and contribution levied for the same, 
at the rate of nearly one dollar a mile, on every pas- 
senger crossings the Isthmus thereafter. So orders 
were given to weigh anchor, and proceed thence two 
or three leagues easterly to Colon, or Navy bay, then 
called Aspinwall, the name and glory of the first ad- 
miral being thrust aside for those of a New York 
mone}^ magnate. However, the old name of Colon 
was a few years after restored. There we disembarked, 
and rode ever the seven miles of completed work, pay- 
ing for the same quite liberally, when we were per- 
mitted to engage boats and ascend the Chagres river, 
which we could as easily and as cheaply have done 
before as afterward. 

Crossing the Isthmus in early times, for an untrav- 
elled, provincial people, was a feat altogether indi- 
vidual and unique ; a feat very different from a three 
or four hours' ride in comfortable rail-cars, through 


ever changing scenery which affords the observer con- 
stant dehght, as the journey is now made. 

Chagres at this time was a town of about seven 
hundred native inhabitants, dwelUng in some fifty 
windowless, bamboo huts, with thatched, pahn-leaf 
roofs, and having open entrances, and the bare ground 
for a floor. The town was surrounded by heaps of 
filthy offal, and greasy, stagnant pools bordered with 
blue mud. It is situated on a small but exceedingly 
picturesque and almost land-locked bay, well nigh 
buried by the foliage that skirts its banks and rolls 
off in billowy emerald toward the hills beyond. Be- 
tween the shore and mountains stretch away for miles 
in every direction broad, open savannahs, cut into 
farms, covered with chaparral, and stocked with cattle. 
Where the river and ocean meet rises a bold bluff, 
crowned by the castle of San Lorenzo, whose ruined 
fortress and battlements, gnawed to a skeleton by the 
teeth of time, gaze mournfully out upon the sea which 
lashes its waves against its steep foundations, as if 
determined to uproot in all these inhospitable parts 
the last vestige of the olden time. Fallen to the 
bottom of the cliff were parapet and guns ; screaming 
sea-birds occupied the crumbling, moss-covered watch- 
tower ; while within the dismounted cannon, bearing, 
with the royal arms of Spain, the date of 1745, were 
slowly changing into rust. Remnants of the old paved 
road which ascends the hill were there, and the draw- 
bridge over the moat — once wide and deep, but now 
rank with vegetation^leading to the main gateway ; 
likewise the drawbridge to the citadel on the verge of 
the cliff, whence a charming view of sea and land may 
be had. At Chagres, passengers were accustomed to 
stay no longer than sufficed to engage boats and start 
on their journey. This region is specially noted for 
the insalubrity of its climate. 

Aspinwall, or Navy bay, where the first blow upon 
the railway was struck, occupies a small swampy mud- 
reef called Manzanilla island, fringed with mangrove 


COLON. 159 

trees, and originally covered with interlacing vines 
and thorny shrubs, and inhabited only by reptiles, 
beasts and poisonous insects. 

It has been stated that Columbus entered Navy 
bay, and called the place after himself, Colon. This 
seems to me hardly probable. In the first place, none 
of the early voyagers make any mention of such an 
event ; and in the next place the great admiral could 
have found many spots more interesting and import- 
ant than this to bear his name. Whether Rodrigo 
de Bastidas or Columbus touched at Chagres, their 
records do not state. The first mention history makes 
of that famous place, it will be remembered, is in the 
adventures of Diego de Nicuesa along these shores in 
1508. A relative of this cavalier, Cueto by name, 
having command of another ship than that in which 
Nicuesa sailed, and becoming separated from his com- 
mander in a storm, was forced, while seeking him, to 
harbor his worm-eaten ship at the mouth of tlie river 
Chagres, so called by the natives, but to which, from 
the multitudes of alligators that swarmed in its little 
bay, he gave the name of Lagartos. 

Probably there was not in all the world where man 
dwells a more loathsome spot than this town of 
Aspinwall, with its hybrid population and streets of 
intersecting stagnant pools. A bed of slime and 
decaying vegetation reeking pestilence, alive with 
crawling reptiles, given over of nature to the vilest 
of her creations, man for money makes a place of to 
live in, or rather to die in, for premature death is 
plainly written on the face of every European inhab- 
itant. Travel the world over and in every place you 
may find something better than is found in any other 
place. Searching for the specialty in which Aspin- 
wall excelled, we found it in her carrion birds, which 
cannot be anywhere surpassed hi size or smell. Man- 
zanilla island may boast the finest vultures on the 
planet. OriginaRy a swamp, the foundations of the 
buildings were below the level of the ocean, and dry 


land was made by filling in as occasion required. The 
result in this soft soil of filth and vegetable putridity 
may be imagined. The very ground on which one 
trod was pregnant with disease, and death was dis- 
tilled in every breath of air. The rain-fall at Aspin- 
wall is very heavy. During the rainy season, which is 
from May to January, the windows of heaven are 
opened, and in October and November there is a 
quick succession of deluges. Glued furniture falls in 
pieces ; leather moulds, and iron oxidizes in twenty- 
four hours. 

Quite a contrast between the old and the new I In 
making the transit by rail, the day before reaching 
Aspinwall every one descended into the hold of the 
steamer, either in person or by proxy, selected his 
baggage, had it weighed and checked, and paid ten 
cents a pound for all over fifty pounds if a holder of 
a steerage ticket, and all over one hundred pounds if 
a holder of a cabin ticket. Baacracre was then trans- 
ferred to the steamer on the other side without fur- 
ther trouble to the owner. No sooner was the plank 
out than the closely penned passengers, with a rush, 
squeezed and stampeded — the American style of dis- 
embarking — hastened ashore, scattered themselves 
among the hotels, shops, and fruit venders, and were 
soon lost in present gratification of appetite, and in 
laying in a store of comforts and disease for the 
future. The pleasure of placing foot on shore after a 
long voyage, even though it be the soft spongy shore 
of Aspinwall, is exquisite. To a cramped sea-rolled 
landsman any spot of earth looks lovely, especially 
when viewed from the sea. To tread on solid ground, 
and feel mother earth beneath your feet again, seems 
like a return from supernatural regions. Thus to 
land and thus to cross the Isthmus is a pleasant 
change from the tiresome life on board the steamers. 
Railway passengers wish the ride was longer, wish 
they could so ride all the way to San Francisco. 
Seated by an open window, the face fanned by the 



motion of the train, and armed with a pitcher or pail 
of iced water, the ride is indeed charming. But at 
the time of which I write crossing the Isthmus was a 
very different affair, as I shall show. 

Placed ashore at Aspinwall by the ship's boats tlie 
passengers by the Georgia were conveyed on open 
platform cars to Gatun, seven miles distant, situated 
on a small stream of the same name, near its conflu- 
ence with the Chagres river. There an uproarious 
scene presented itself The occasion was the hiring 
of bongos or canoes in which to ascend the river. The 
boating was done by negroes and natives ; the patrones, 
skippers, or owners of the boats were mostly Creoles, 
the least tinge of whiteness in their blood being suffi- 
cient to warrant them in asserting supremacy. The 
gold-seekers were here first thrown upon their own 
resources ; here the real battle began. On shipboard 
they were only so much steamship pabulum ; the 
goddess of liberty had shrunk to the dimensions of a 
captain of a water craft. Once more on shore, and 
American manhood mi^rht auain assert itself Of 
course attempts would be made at cheating, and such 
attempts should be resisted to the death. Nothing 
quicker marks the narrow-minded and inexperienced 
traveller than a morbid fear of being overreached. 
Shall the American eagle be brow-beaten by the 
turkey -buzzards of a nonderscript No-land ? Hence 
any attempt at fancied imposition was blustered down, 
and knives and pistols freely used, if necessary, to en- 
force fair dealing. 

Seldom did a steamer load of passengers get started 
up the river without much wrangling. Boat-owners 
were not slow to take advantage of their necessities, 
and charge exorbitant fares ; or having made a con- 
tract they flew from it and demanded more. Rascal- 
ity was rampant ; and so keen were the adventurers 
to scent a swindle that they sometimes found a mare's 
nest. Many a pilgrim here first shed the crust of 
conventionality ; and many another on glancing into. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 11 


the kaleidoscope of unsanctified human nature and 
Uberated passion turned back discomfited, and sought 
his home by the steamer that brought him. If the 
infernal regions were to be bombarded for this gold, 
they would pause and consider the matter. Then 
there were yet those fastened by fate in this magnifi- 
cent cesspool of tropical putrescence who could get 
neither way; who having taken their chances of 
reaching California had lost. Happy indeed would 
they have been if they could have gone forward m 
any direction. And there were those, saffron- visaged 
skeletons, stretched side by side on cots, in the heated 
rooms of hotels, on whom death had set its seal, with 
no loved one near to ease the aching limb or wet the 
parched tongue. 

Passengers in India rubber and oilcloth suits, singly 
and in amalgamated groups of quondam friendships, 
armed with pistols, guns, knives, umbrellas, and life- 
preservers, mild-mannered as belted brigands, were on 
the qui vive lest assassination should add their car- 
casses to the many significant mounds in the vicinity. 
Equipped with drinking-cups, pots, kettles, forks, 
spoons, and air-beds, with stores of meat, bread, 
brandy, and pills, all were rushing about bargaining, 
bwearing, and whooping, impatient to be oflP. Bam- 
boo-faced patrones ranting bad Spanish, in broad- 
bottomed pantaloons, colored muslin shirts, and broad- 
brimmed jipijapa hats, with huge cigars in their 
sensual mouths, having fleets or boats at their 
command, formed the central figure of excited groups. 
Canoes from fifteen to twenty-five feet in length, dug 
from a single log of bay or mahogany, and capable of 
carrying from four to ten persons with their luggage, 
could be engaged to Gorgona for from thirty to fifty 
dollars and a bottle of brandy for the boatmen. The 
patron usually accompanied his fleet, steering one of 
the boats. 

Our boat is engaged — it has an awning to protect 


US from alternate sun and rain — our baggage stowed, 
and we have settled into as comfortable positions r.s 
our cargo will permit. One glance at the jangling 
crowd upon the bank, and we are off. After all there 
is something touching in the scene. The steamer we 
had an idea would bring character to the surface ; but 
now we find we knew little of our neighbors before 
they stepped ashore, and assumed their respective 
parts for the Isthmus extravaganza. The burly man and 
loud talker, that v/e imagine might brave boatmen cr 
boa constrictors, now pufls and sweats about the outer 
edge of a knot of determined actors, among whom the 
litlle quiet boyish-looking fellow, with short, slight 
frame, small hand, and delicate features, assumes au- 
thority as by appointment. In such an emergency 
mind and resolute daring, of their own inherent vir- 
tue, form a nucleus round which grosser substance 
gravitates. Then what a history they have, every 
one of them. In their outre guise, with all their inor- 
dinate desires and liberated propensities, their fretful 
fault-findings, stupid misunderstandings, and morbid 
restlessness, there is an air of stormy grandeur about 
them. They are heroes and martyrs, in their way. 
Have they not left quiet peace for troubled wander- 
ings, abandoned loving hearts for loneliness ? Have 
they not for sweet charity's sake blinded their eyes to 
the rosy smiles of children, stopped their ears to the 
passionate sobs of wife and mother and sister, steeled 
their affections against home and its sanctifying mem- 
ories, and cast themselves adrift, aye, plunged their 
souls into a gehenna of inquietude and stinging battle? 

Two or four or six shining, black, thick-limbed and 
muscular negroes, uniting with the African wooly 
hair, and protruding lips, a Moorish aquiline nose, cr 
as many lighter colored, and lighter limbed natives, 
propelled the boats up the stream by means of poles, 
at an average speed of a mile an hour. Taking their 
stand upon the broadened edges of the canoe on either 


side, one end of their pole upon the bottom of the 
river, and the other placed against their shoulder, 
smoking with perspiration, their deep chests sending 
forth volumes of vapor into the vapory air, their 
swollen sinews strained to their utmost tension, and 
keeping time to a sort of grunting song, they step 
steadily along from stem to stern, thus sending the 
boat rapidly over the water, except where the cur- 
rent is strong. The middle of the channel, where 
the water is deep and the current rapid, is avoided as 
much as possible; yet with every precaution the 
men frequently miss their purchase and the boat falls 
back in a few minutes as great a distance as it can re- 
cover in an hour. Ev3ry now and then, ceasing their 
work, the swarthy boatmen disrobe with the most im- 
perturbable sang froid, and wholly insensible to the 
presence of horror-stricken females, and with perspira- 
tion streaming down their naked sinewy limbs, cry 
" bano !" and running the bow of the boat into the 
bank, they fasten it there with the poles and plunge into 
the stream. Or if overtaken by rain, which here falls 
with scarcely the slightest warning, they strip them- 
selves to the last rag of whatever they happen to 
have on, and rolling up their clothes put them in a 
dry place until the rain is over. In places poles and 
paddles are wholly ineffectual, and the boatmen are 
obliged to take to the bank, and tow the boat after 
them with a rope, or, wading in the water, bear it by 
main force up the rapids. 

One boat after another is pushed along amid sage re- 
marks, coarse jests and yells, and the fifing of pistols. 
There is a humorous side to every scene; and this 
was the side usually uppermost in early Californian 
times, however trying the ordeal, or incongruous the 
grouping, or dismal the moral shades. To these ad- 
venturers so lately liberated from the nauseating con- 
finement of a rolling overcrowded steamer, — not- 
withstanding the heat and moisture which hung in 
the air, and folded them about like a wet blanket — 


such things as ground on which to plant their feet, 
though none of the firmest, activity of muscle and 
mind„ midst scenes so new and wonderful to them, 
together with liberal potations from the reputed fever- 
preventing bottle, had a most exhilarating effect upon 
their spirits ; though most of them were quite ready 
again to seek refuge in a ship before they found one 
on the other side. 

Surpassingly beautiful is the foliage along the banks 
of this Circean stream. Rolling up from either side 
are mountains of impervious forest, gigantic, rank, and 
wild. Every shade of green, sombre and bright, min- 
gles with rose-red, purple, white, and yellow, orange, 
blue, and pink in endless varying kaleidoscope. Solemn 
palms, thick-leaved mangoes, bold majestic teaks, and 
bounteous bananas are linked by crimson- blossomed 
parasites, which, twming, interlacing, creeping, and 
pendant, mat and unite all brotherhoods in close em- 
brace, and over-reaching the glistening banks meet 
their image in the glassy waters. Bending acacias 
dig their sinewy roots into the soft earth to pre- 
vent falling, and weave their branches into thick 
screens; bread-fruit hangs in huge clusters overhead, 
and plantain pine-apple and orange, mango and lime, 
papaw alligator-pear and sugar-cane, yield profusely 
their spontaneous favors. It is no trifling matter to 
be a tree in the tropics. If erect and strong it is 
made a plant-patriarch, whether it will or not, and 
must support a dense mass of orchids, purple convol- 
vuli, and creeping plants of almost every genus and 
species, which if spread upon the ground would form 
a thick carpet covering a space five times the area of 
the tree's shadow at noon-day ; and when at last the 
forest behemoth is smothered to death, and dragged 
down by these relentless parasites, its sapless trunk is 
speedily buried in broad leaves and tender vines and 
bunches of spongy moss, and its tomb decorated with 
flaming flowers and delicate microscopic blossoms. 

Underneath dark vistas of shadowy colonnade are 



tall grasses and tangled shrubbery through whicj 
wild beasts with difficulty force their way. What 
our colder climes are rare exotics, here riot in th^ 
open air, bursting with exuberance. Innunicrabk 
flowers of every hue gild the landscape ; the tiny bios 
soms of the north spread out in flaming proportions, o^ 
assume shapes in which they almost lose their iden^ 
tity, while innumerable species unknown to the north- 
ern naturalist abound in rank profusion. Chief among 
these, and one of the most remarkable that blooms ; 
any clime, is the Flor del Espiritu santo, tlie flower < 
the holy ghost. Lifting its graceful form from marshj 
pools and decayed logs to a heiglit sometimes of siJ 
or Feven feet, it throws out broad lanceolate leave 
by pairs from jointed leaf-stalks, while on a leaflea 
flower-stalk springing from the bulb are sometime 
ten or fifteen tulip-shaped blossoms of alabaster white 
ness, and powerful magnolia perfume, enfolding witl 
in their tiny cups the pr(^ne image of a dove, forme 
in such consunnnate grace and symmetry as no ai^ 
could approach. And with this emblem of innocenci 
and celestrial purity rising from a sensual paradise* 
with its gentle head bent meekly forward, its exquis 
itely shaped pinions hanging listlessly by its sides, it 
tiny bill, tipped with delicate carmine, almost resting 
on its snow-white breast, in form and feature the ver 
incarnation of ethereal innocence — shall we blame thJ 
early priests for pointing the poor natives to thil 
flower, and telling them God is here ? 

Palm trees of various descriptions line the banks! 
and gorgeous water lilies dip their fragrant heads . 
the boat passes over them. Every shower of rain 
like the sprinkling of perfume on the vegetation 
Birds of richly painted plumage and shrill song illun 
inate the forest; the dark, scarlet-breasted toucan 
which tosses its food from its long serrated beak int 
the air and catches it in its throat, and in drinking, 
the padres say, makes the sign of the cross, whencJ 
they call it Dios te de, (May God give thee) ; screac 


ing parrots, parroquets and flamingoes with their 
harsh discordant voices, and black and yellow turpiales, 
wild turkeys, peacocks, and herons, and multitudes of 
others, gorgeously feathered and sweet of song, glitter 
amidst the shadowy green. Chattering monkeys leap 
from tree to tree and sw4ng upon the pendent vines ; 
mammoth blue butterflies, brilliant as the rainbow, 
dance in the sun and rise to match the azure of heaven 
on wings a hand broad; and humming birds, beautiful 
as the butterflies, buzz and poise and dart from flower 
to flower. Myriads of insects with burnished coats of 
mail sparkle in the air and people the plants, while 
all through the day the shrill whistle of the chicharra 
— a kind of green grasshop|)er — is heard, which begin- 
ning in a low gurgle, rises into a clear blast like the 
wliistle of a steam engine, and which may be distin- 
guislied a mile distant. 

Early Spanish writers throw up their hands in as- 
tonishment over the wonders of tliis land; melons, 
cucumbers, and lettuce, say they, ripm in twenty days 
after they are sown. Fruits and echble roots abound 
in great profusion. The })ineapple was considered the 
most delicious of all tropical productions. Wild beasts 
and venomous re})tiles and birds of l)rilliant plumage 
fill the forests. A species of lion, smaller than those 
of Africa was found tliere, as well as fierce leopards 
and ravenous tigers wliich easily tear a man in pieces; 
deer, foxes, hares, rabluts, multitudes of apes and 
monkeys, alligators, venomous bats, vipers, snakes, 
s-^orpions, pheasants, peacocks, parrots, and birds 
decked in a thousand shades of gay livery, and pour- 
i;ig forth sweet melody, all preying one upon another, 
each fulfilling its mission, to occupy and enjoy the 
bounteous gifts of nature so lavishly placed at their 

It is a pity so fair a scene should be so foul; that 
such dark death-dealing plague-spots siiould be clotted 
in treacherous beauty ; that quick and ardent nature 
sliould flood such loveliness with vapors of destruction,. 


should breathe hito it a breath of mahgnant perfume, 
and give it over to sUmy reptiles and ravenoas beasts ; 
to panthers, tigers, leopards and cougars, to long lash- 
like snakes, and lazy alligators, and poisonous ants, 
and black stinking cormorants. 

The river here is a clear, but somewhat shallow 
stream, about fifty yards wide ; its banks at first low 
and marshy rise into hills as you ascend, and roll off 
in distant mountains. Now it is full of bongos and 
canoes coming and going, racing, knocking against 
each other; and at every turning of the crooked stream 
the boatmen's cries and shouts of passengers are heard 
cheering as they pass. So winding is this river in its 
course that more than fifty miles are traversed in order 
to reach a point thirty miles distant. 

On they go, the prospective diggers, panting after 
a sight of the yellow dross as harts pant for water. 
To them it was nothing but the nakedness of God's 
creation, all this wild, weird beauty about them, the 
glorious quivering and play of light and shadow, where 
the black reflects the cliffs of eternal foliage rising 
sheer from its very edge. As we ascend, though still 
tropic, the river scenery becomes more subdued, and 
the country in places begins to look as if cultivation 
was being attempted. 

At Dos Hermanos we stopped a little before night 
for our supper. Before one of the principal eating- 
houses we found a table spread in the open air, covered 
with a clean cloth, and attended by a mahogany- 
colored woman, bare to the waist, with a white loose 
flowered cotton skirt trimmed with lace, a broad - 
brimmed Panama hat, and a golden necklace adorned 
with coins. On her unstockinged feet were a pair of 
yellow satin slippers, and in her mouth a long large 
cigar. On the table were red earthen jugs and odd- 
shaped dishes filled with tortillas, dried meat, boiled 
fowl, eggs, fresh rolls, and coflee. 

Scarcely had we started on our way w^hen night 


fell suddenly upon us and the whole heavens were 
illuminated. Large fireflies glowed like sapphire in 
their vain endeavor to outshine the stars, which 
sparkled with almost dazzling brilliancy above them. 
Behold here a new heaven and a new earth ! new 
constellations above and new fruits and flowers below. 
A torch placed in the bow of the boat cast weird 
shadows over the disturbed water, and threw into 
denser blackness the bordering thickets. Presently 
the moon came up from behind the mountains of 
verdure ; and while the swarthy forms of the boatmen 
marched to their monotonous strains, the tired travel- 
ler sat silently with cramped legs, or lay his aching 
back upon the heaped up luggage and watched in 
dreamy speculation the blazing stars. Passing Ahorca 
Lagarto we spent the whole of the following day 
toiling up the stream under a burning sun, with occa- 
sional showers of rain, the hot glare upon the water 
and the steaming rottenness on the land being at 
times almost unendurable ; now and then we landed to 
rest and eat. The crisp cool morning and evening 
air, laden with sweet odors from the woodlands, was 
most refreshing. Part of the next night we laid over 
at Barbacoas, a native village with huts of poles and 
palm-leaves furnished with a mat to stretch on and a 
hammock to loll in, and thick with swarms of naked 
children. Before the tramp of gold-seekers awoke 
their avarice, centuries came and went, and the dolce 
far niente of the natives, like their soft skies and 
fragrance-breathing forests, was undisturbed. Too 
indulgent nature by withholding the necessity re- 
moved the incentive to action. 

The next day we reached Gorgona, which ended 
our boating and the first stage of the journey across 
the Isthmus. Two days and nights were usually oc- 
cupied in accomplishing this distance, portions of the 
days being taken for rest and portions of the nights 
for travel. There were two points on the river where 
passengers were accustomed to leave their boat and 


take a mule trail for Panama — Gorgona and Cruces, 
the latter being about six miles from the former ; in- 
deed, there was a third landing, Obispo, lying between 
the other two at a sharp bend in the river. Gorgona 
is the head of river navigation for six months of the 
year, namely, from November to April, and Cruces 
for the other six months. The trails from these differ- 
ent points all unite before reaching Panamd. 

At Gorgona, that is to say the Place o-f Rocks, we 
found a bamboo-built hotel with thatched roof and 
ground floor, the principal room having round the 
sides rows of grass hammocks hung on a frame- work 
of upright posts in the form of shelves one over an- 
other like the steerage berths of a steamer. These 
berths were of sufficient size to accommodate an out- 
stretched man, and one of them I engaged for the 
night for one dollar. Evidently the landlord knew 
how to keep a hotel. After supper I went out to 
take a survey of the place. The scenery thence is 
bolder than any I have yet seen on the Isthmus. 
The town, consisting of about a hundred houses, is 
built on a high table-land, whence rise hills and moun- 
tains on every side, covered with drift-like masses of 
vegetation moved by the meeting winds from two 
oceans, and forming an amphitheatre through which 
flows the tortuous stream at my feet. Yonder is the 
crowning peak of Carabali whence, it is said, both 
the Atlantic and Pacific may be seen from one spot. 
Besides the house in which I lodged were five or six 
others, some of them of boards, some of adobe with 
tiled roofs, and some of reeds, with large signs such 
as " Union Hotel," " Hotel Francaise," and the like, 
kept mostly by Yankee landlords, who appeared to 
know how to make the most out of the traffic. The 
carrying trade between here and Panama smacks of 
Yankee enterprise, as do also the gaming tables where 
the natives lay down their hard-earned dollars. There 
were also a few stores, and an abundance of drinking 
saloons and fandango houses. Night came on apace. 


and darkness, falling suddenly when once the glaring- 
sun dropped behind the hills, and soon a blaze of 
light poured from the hotels, saloons, and gambling 
and dance houses in front, while a thousand moving 
torches glimmered in the surrounding darkness, and 
mingled with the promiscuous mass of brute and 
human life. Rising in the background was the dark 
silent wood, and in front the sluggish stream, on 
whose bank this so strange assemblage had gathered. 

There was a fandango that night; there alwaj^s 
seems to be one at places of this kind. The Gorgonan 
upper ten danced at the alcalde's; the baser sort on 
the sward beneath a vertical moon. Byron is right 
in his sarcasm on the chaste moon. It was a half 
barbaric and wholly voluptuous dance, and the reward 
of the danseuse, the most enduring and suggestive, 
*was to ha.^e the hats of the company piled on her 
head — a doubtful honor considering the heads from 
which they come. These hats had the advantage 
over beehives, that their inhabitants did not sting. 

Rising early next morning, and partaking of a 
hasty breakfast of beans, salt meat, coarse black 
bread, and coffee without milk, I went out and 
encountered a scene similar to that at Gatun, where 
we had embarked on the river below two days before, 
except that in the present bargaining mules took the 
place of boats, and there was an absence of that wild 
hilarity which displayed itself immediately on landing 
from the steamer. All through the nio^ht boats had 
been arriving, and there were now a hundred of them 
and more strung side by side at the landing. On the 
low shelving sandy bank were scattered miners' tents 
and native huts, uncovered piles of baggage, mingled 
with which were the prostrate forms of unhoused 
pilgrims, landlords, muleteers, and transport contract- 
ors, while up the steep embankment, rising from the 
river-bottom, were bands of fly-blown horses of the or- 
der of Rosinante, neighing to the mournful melody 
of mules, and filling the heavens with their discords. 


To add to the commotion, we here met the main 
body of returning Cahfornians, on their way from 
Panamd to take the steamer which we had left. Some 
of them were neatly clad, orderly, and quiet ; others, 
in their shaggy hair and long untrimmed beard, 
guarding with religious care their torn and earth- 
stained garments, as sacred relics of their pilgrimage, 
were laden with gold-dust, and wore in their bronzed 
visages the smirk of success ; but by far the greater 
number were disappointed-looking men, poorly dressed, 
some suffering from rheumatism, crippled limbs, and 
broken constitutions; some with their formerly stal- 
wart frames shrunken and wasted by fever, and many 
disheartened, bankrupt wretches, who had been 
stripped of their all, and were now returning to their 
homes, scattering curses on California as they went 
along. It is a significant fact that the steamer steer- 
age was better filled on the return trip than on the 
voyage out ; and there was more money in the pock- 
ets and in the gold-dust belts of the steerage pa^^sen- 
gers than in those of the cabin passengers. The rea- 
sons were these: Returning Cahfornians comprised 
four several classes. First, those who could get home 
no other way, who could barely scrape enough together 
to buy a steerage ticket. Secondly, those who had 
money, but who had toiled hard for it, were accue- 
tomed to roughing it, and preferred economizing here 
that they might have the more hereafter; this was a 
large class. Thirdly, inefficient and impecunious sons 
or relatives of gentlemen, who were helped to Cali- 
fornia by their friends in the hope that they would 
there develop into something, and. were now, after 
having made a miserable failure of it, being helped 
back to their homes in order to save them from total 
destruction. These could by no means make up their 
minds to descend into the depths so long as they had 
friends to foot their bills. And fourthly, men of 
means, whose money was chiefly in bills of exchange. 
Many miners went home in the steerage armed to the 


teeth, and well laden with gold-dust, two or more 
friends uniting their accumulations, and each in turn 
guarding their treasure night and day, never leaving 
it for an instant during the entire trip. This was in 
order to save the freight, which was then high. They 
argued if they got through, their money should ; if it 
was lost, all would go down together. 

Narrowly they eyed one another, the going and the 
returning, one with interest not unmingled with ad- 
miring envy, and the other with an air of superiority, 
perhaps with contemptuous pity. Ah I the mighty 
power of gold, in which is condensed all that is bright 
and beautiful of earth, all that is holy of heaven and 
hateful of hell, in whose yellow molecules are wrapped 
all human virtue and passion, that could thus consum- 
mate this meeting, bringing together from the remotest 
ends of earth brave men of thought and deed, meeting 
here in the heart of a tropical wilderness, in the middle 
of this narrow Isthmus which so provokingly obstructs 
the world's commerce, on the topmost point, round 
which revolves the two Americas and the two great 
oceans, meeting in a pestilential clime, some hurrying 
one way and some another, some sick to death of gold- 
seeking, others burning for it I It was not a little 
curious, the sight, as we stood and watched them 
there, the outward bound and homeward bound, some 
with the confident swagger of greenness yet upon 
them, rude and unaccommodating in their grumbling 
selfishness, stupid in their perverse independence, and 
surly in their unreasonable opposition to order and 
regulations ; the others, men of like origin and caste, 
but licked into some degree of form and congruity by 
their rough experiences, rude and ragged they may be, 
but quieter, more subdued, more easily adapting 
themselves to circumstances, more ready to yield some 
fancied right for the common good, more humanized 
and harmonious, whether more polished or not. 
Light like that of revelation seems to have broken 
in upon them during their wanderings, enlighten- 


ing their minds and toning their hearts to new 

With as Httle dela}^ as possible our passengers 
handed their baggage to' the packers, hired saddle- 
mules, paying from ten to twenty dollars for a beast 
to Panamd, and mounting, filed off into the narrow 
path that marked the way. Some of the women 
donned man's apparel, and rode man-wise ; others 
accepted a compromise, and followed Mrs Amelia 
Bloomer, who cut off her skirts and paraded the streets 
of New York in short clothes first in 1849, just in 
time for the California-going sisterhood to adopt that 
costume on the Isthmus ; others refused in any wise 
to molest the sacred limits of their petticoats, prefer- 
ring to die rather than to outrage modesty, shame 
the sex, and exhibit their large ankles even to the 
barbarians, among whom he who wore the least cloth- 
ing was most in fashion, nakedness absolute being full 
dress. Children were seated in chairs strapped to the 
backs of natives ; luggage was also carried lashed to 
the backs of porters. For so supposedly enervating a 
climate, the loads these natives, negroes and mongrels, 
are capable of carrying is surprising. I was told that 
some of them frequently packed on their backs 2C0 
pounds from Gorgona to Panamd, twenty-five miles, 
in a day and a half Many of the passengers engaged 
these men to carry their effects, and made the journey 
with them on foot. 

There was no wagon road across the Isthmus, and 
the trail from Gorgona, though not so broken as that 
from Cruces, was rough in the extreme, and led 
through a greatly diversified country. Two miles 
brought us across the table land, when we entered a 
dense forest, from which the sun was wholly excluded 
by the overhanging branches. Thence we followed 
the path successively over soft, uneven ground, through 
shady canons, and mountain chasms murky in their 
gloomy solitude, up and round precipitous hillsides 
cut by travel into steps and stairs, on which and into 


well-worn holes the careful and sagacious animal placed 
his foot tenderly, knowing that an inch or two on the 
wrong side of it would send him sliding down the steep 
slope. Now we would be under a canopy of creepers 
trellised with palms, now winding through a valley of 
impervious undergrowth, rustling with serpents, in- 
sects, and birds, and then out into the broad, open, 
burning plain, crossing turbid streams and mountain 
rills, wading some filthy morass, rounding rocky cliffs, 
and exposed alternately to sun and rain. Descending 
with slow and cautious step the steep declivities from 
the little spot of table-land round Gorgona, then as- 
cendinof and descending: agcain and ao-ain until tierra 
caliente is reached, the scenery is ever changing, now 
captivating with its beauty, and now thrilling with 
its magnificence. Often we passed through ravines 
which had been washed out by the rain, and so 
narrow at the bottom that on entering at either end 
persons must shout in order to notify others wish- 
ing to come from the opposite direction. Hearmg 
the whoops of muleteers within, we were often obliged 
to wait until they should emerge, when we could enter, 
and shout for those coming from the opposite direction 
to wait their turn. Some of these gullies have been 
worn down thirty feet and more by centuries of travel, 
and are so narrow at the bottom that a loaded mule 
can barely get through. Often when travellers met, 
one would have to turn back ; and again, when caught 
in tight places, horsemen would draw up their legs, 
and so let the animals squeeze past each other, when 
this could be done. All along the way crosses marked 
the resting-place of those overtaken by fever or assas- 
sin, while the murderer himself found unsanctified 
sepulchre beneath a pile of stones at the cross-roads. 
Every now and then we would stop to rest at a way- 
side rancheria, where bread, warm water, and vile 
liquors were sold at exorbitant prices. Then there 
were more pretentious houses where the belated trav- 
eller could spend the night, the " Halfway House " and 


the " True Half-way House " kept by Europeans or 
Americans. Tea and coffee were plentiful along the 
route, but milk was scarce. The water of the Isth- 
mus, for drinking purposes, early acquired a bad name ; 
its effects were said to be extremely deleterious, espe- 
cially on Europeans. The distaste, thus or other- 
wise arising for this fluid, so fastened itself on many 
of the pilgrims that it never afterward left them ; for 
on arriving in California they seemed to prefer strych- 
inne whiskey even to the melted snow of the Sierra. 
As a matter of fact, water, and nothing else, taken 
sparingly will carry one through fatigue and inhospit- 
able climates better than any stimulant. In crossing 
the Isthmus thousands have killed themselves, or 
planted the seeds of disease, under the excuse that 
water was pernicious. 

In ancient times there was a trail from Panama to 
Cruces, paved with large round stones from six to 
eighteen inches in diameter. In places it was three 
feet wide. It overlaid all the softer ground, and con- 
nected with the rocky defiles and hillside shelves, where 
it frequently narrowed to a foot in width. Near Pa- 
nama it widened yet more and was kept in tolerable 
repair, but the upper end was dilapidated and almost 
useless, being washed away by flood, or cut under or 
broken sheer asunder by torrents, so as to leave it in 
pieces high above the sunken bottom of a ravine. 
Over these disordered heaps of smooth stones mingled 
with soft deep mud, the poor heavily laden mule was 
obliged to stumble, and the wonder was how he ever 
got through at all. Though not as comely as the beau- 
tiful beasts of Europe, these mules, with their limbs of 
steel, show a more marvellous dexterity, risking 
their feet with confidence, as if by instinct or memory, 
in dangerous places. There is no necessity for direct- 
ing the animal you ride ; give him his head and let 
him go, and when you get to Panamd. get off and give 
him the bridle ; the master is not far away. The Gor- 
gona trail strikes the ancient road some seven or eight 

PANAMA. 177 

miles from Panama, and the glare of a vertical sun on 
the hot uneven stones of this pavement, as one 
emerges from the more shaded interior, is painful. 

Over this old Cruces road and down the river to 
the northern ocean, the wealth of the South Sea was 
conveyed for centuries ; and even to this day were to 
be seen gold trains and silver trains, with uncovered 
bars of glittering metal corded to the saddles of richly 
caparisoned mules with jingling bells, in charge of 
some pompous merchant's clerk, heavily armed, booted 
and spurred, and attended by a guard of half a dozen 
yellow musketeers. Thirty or forty mules, sacred to 
the conveyance of the steamer's gold and mails, crossed 
as a separate caravan, and often by a route of their 
own, and these should by no means render the slight- 
est assistance to any of the passengers, no matter how 
urgent might be their necessities ; for while the 
bodies of men and mules go and come, gold and its 
power remain eternal. 

Down from the mountains and out of the tropical 
wilderness we approach the borders of the broad Pa- 
cific. From a series of plains dotted with patches of 
black thorn and cactus, and groves of citron, orange, 
and mango, we strike into the paved road, cross the 
old stone bridge, and are soon among the planta- 
tions and suburban residences of Panamd. Goats and 
herds of cattle now mingle with bands of pack-mules, 
mounted stragglers, and pedestrians; water-carriers 
ply their trade with increased activity as the day draws 
to a close ; houses, two and three stories in height, of 
wood and adobe, supplant the remoter reed huts, and 
following the current of gold-seekers we leave behind 
the shops outside the walls, cross the moat, and pass- 
ing under the arched and towered gateway of Puerta de 
Tierra, with its old stone cross and bell, we enter Pa- 

^ Dating from the founding of its ancient site, some 
six miles distant on the beach, Panama is the oldest 

Cal. Int. Poc. 12 


European city now standing on the mainland of the 
two Americas. • 

In the year 1515, the story goes, Pedrarias Ddvila, 
governor of Castilla del Oro, despatched from Santa 
Maria de la Antigua del Darien, the first settlement 
of the Spaniards on the mainland of America, situated 
on the gulf of Darien, then called Urabd, but whose 
traces are now wholly obliterated, Antonio Tello de 
Guzman, a native of Toledo, with one hundred men, 
and instructions to cross the Isthmus to the South Sea, 
and establish there a settlement from which to prose- 
cute discoveries along the shores of the Pacific. After 
several conflicts with the natives the journey was ac- 
complished. As he approached the borders of the 
southern sea, Tello de Guzman heard much of a place 
called by the natives Panamd, famous, as the Spaniards 
supposed, for its wealth ; but in truth, only a collection 
of fishermen's huts, the name signifying in the aborig- 
inal tongue, ''a place where many fish are taken." 

This was the discovery and origin of the site of old 
Panamd ; and although nothing further was accom- 
plished toward a settlement during this expedition, 
subsequently, from the reports given by Tello de 
Guzman, Pedrarias founded the metropolis of his 
government. There, after the chivalrous Vasco 
Nunez and his comrades had been beheaded at Ada, 
the surly old governor quarrelled with Oviedo, and 
plotted against his best friends. Thence Pedrarias 
proceeded to pacify Nicaragua, and thence Francisco 
Pizarro and his bloody crew sailed for the conquest 
of Peru. '^Very noble and very loyal" Charles Y. 
called the town in those days, meaning thereby very 
much gold, very much gold! Now the spot is so si- 
lent and dead, so crumbled and forest-enclosed, that on 
one side you may pass within ten steps of its ancient 
walls and discover no city, while from the ba}^ a soli- 
tary ivy-covered tower is seen, which marks the tomb 
of crumbled splendor scattered round its base. In 
1671 the buccaneers under Henry Morgan, sacked 


and burned old Panamd, and it was then determined 
to choose a healthier site before rebuilding the city. 

The old city boasted its palatial houses of cedar, 
adorned with paintings and rich hangings, its cathe- 
dral and other fine churches ; its eight convents, with 
their costly altar-pieces and gold and silver orna- 
ments; its 2000 dwellings tenanted by wealthy mer- 
chants, and 5000 by lesser tradesmen; its royal 
stables, and beautiful gardens, and fertile fields; and 
the new city was built upon a scale of yet grander 
magnificence. But with the decline of Spanish 
power in the new world, Panamd fell. The vast trade- 
upon the Pacific, extending from Chili to California, 
and across to the Philippine islands, which brought to 
anchor in her harbor galleys laden with the gold and 
silver of America, and the rich stuffs and spices of 
India, and filled her store-houses, and made her mer- 
chants princes, became scattered. The city sank into 
a lethargy from which it was partially awakened by 
the shouts and pistol-shots of a new race of gold- seek- 
ers. But Ichabod was too deeply graven on her door- 
posts. The glory of despotism and fanaticism had 
departed ; and even in the momentary awakening in- 
cident to the Californian emigration the principal 
traffic was in the hands of Anglo-Americans. 

As compared with its ancient grandeur Panamd, 
until the construction of the ship canal was fairly 
under way, presented a melancholy appearance. The 
city is built on a rocky peninsula which juts out some 
quarter of a mile from the base of the Ancon hill 
into a broad, peaceful, isle-dotted bay. Across this 
peninsula from beach to beach, extend streets, inter- 
sected at right angles by other and broader streets, 
which invite currents of air, and most of which are 
well paved. On approaching the city from any direc- 
tion, the dilapidated fortifications, and cathedral tow- 
ers, and high, tiled roofs attract the first attention. 
The houses are built of stone, wood, and adobe ; most 
of them are two stories in height, some three, with'^ 


courts or patios, and verandas round the upper stories, 
beneath which one may walk during a rain over 
nearly the whole town without getting wet. The 
style of church architecture is sui generis^ Hispano- 
American if you like, common to the cathedrals and 
missions throughout the whole Pacific States; adobe, 
stone, and stucco thrown together in quaint irregular 
piles. Some of the principal churches and many of 
the buildings were in ruins, the roots of ravenous 
plants boring into the crevices, dislocating the stone, 
and tearing down the huge walls. The grand old 
cathedral, however, remained, fronting on the plaza as 
all cathedrals do, with its towers filled with bells, and 
mosses and creepers covering its crumbling walls; 
beside which there were at the time I first visited the 
city, a college, a nunnery, and four convents. The 
cathedral would hold four thousand persons; the roof 
was supported by large pillars ; round the altar was a 
profusion of silver ornaments, and flat on the floor 
were score 3 of marble slabs on which were graven 
the virtues of the holy remains resting beneath. 
The twelve apostles in marble occupied twelve niches 
in the end toward the plaza. Bats and lizards in- 
fested the building and disputed with worshippers the 
right of occupation. Pictures adorned the walls and 
shrines were placed at intervals around the interior. 
Over the crucifix of the high altar presided a large 
silver stork with her young. 

Throughout the city pearl-oyster shells glittered 
from steeples and pinnacles, and from the turreted 
bell -towers at the street corners, every morning at 
sunrise, came discordant peals, accompanied by the 
clang of cathedral bells, filling the streets with pious 
worshippers slowly and silently wending their way to 
church. On feast days which were many, the city 
flaunted her bravest finery, and looked not unlike a 
wrinkled beldame in gaudy attire. Gaily dressed 
men and women, proudly sporting their Spanish cloaks, 
and darker-skinned natives in white costumes, marched 


the streets from one bedizened altar to another, while 
the shaven priest with his peculiar hat, long black 
robe with bright satin lining, small clothes fastened 
at the knee with golden buckles, white silk stockings, 
slippered feet, and cigar, surveyed with zealous inter- 
est the effect of his enlightened teachings. 

But on all days were seen stealthy coffee-colored 
men with thin sinewy limbs; stealthy half-naked 
women with twinkling jet eyes and bronze bust glis- 
tening in the palpitating light; girls and boys sur- 
rounded with cocoanuts, oranges, and limes, bananas, 
eggs, and flowers of shell work. There were avenues 
of fruit and vegetable stalls ; while through the open 
doors under the veranda the more aristocratic traf- 
fickers displayed their dry goods, groceries, and liquors. 

The main streets in the central part of the city 
were lined with hotels, shops, and gambling saloons, 
newly whitewashed and adorned with flaming sign- 
boards in English vocables, while on nearly every 
other house waved the stars and stripes. This busy 
renovated centre was flanked by crumbling vine-clad 
walls and mouldering ruins. In its palmy days the 
two sides of the town facing the sea were protected by 
batteries, and the sides toward tlie land by a high 
wall with watch-towers and moat. The bastions 
were constructed at different times as necessity de- 
manded, and presented an irregular appearance ; and 
thouorh the walls were his^h the fortifications were not 
strong. Panamd, was divided into two parishes, one, 
the city proper, lying within the wall, and called 
San Felipe, the other, that portion without the wall 
called Santa Ana. Two large gates opened toward 
the sea and two toward the land; the latter once 
strongly fortified were entered by drawbridges. The 
popular promenade was the rampart, round whose 
tottering walls anrl. ragged turrets were scattered the 
dismantled guns of brass, so richly wrought and so 
carefully embossed by the great foundries of Barcelona. 

The private houses of San Felipe were mostly of 


courts or patios, and verandas round the upper stories, 
beneath which one may walk during a rain over 
nearly the whole town without getting wet. The 
style of church architecture is sui generis, Hispano- 
American if you like, common to the cathedrals and 
missions throughout the whole Pacific States; adobe, 
stone, and stucco thrown together in quaint irregular 
piles. Some of the principal churches and many of 
the buildings were in ruins, the roots of ravenous 
plants boring into the crevices, dislocating the stone, 
and tearing down the huge walls. The grand old 
cathedral, however, remained, fronting on the plaza as 
all cathedrals do, with its towers filled with bells, and 
mosses and creepers covering its crumbling walls; 
beside which there were at the time I first visited the 
city, a college, a nunnery, and four convents. The 
cathedral would hold four thousand persons ; the roof 
was supported by large pillars ; round the altar was a 
profusion of silver ornaments, and flat on the floor 
were scores of marble slabs on which were graven 
the virtues of the holy remains resting beneath. 
The twelve apostles in marble occupied twelve niches 
in the end toward the plaza. Bats and lizards in- 
fested the building and disputed with worshippers the 
right of occupation. Pictures adorned the walls and 
shrines were placed at intervals around the interior. 
Over the crucifix of the high altar presided a large 
silver stork with her young. 

Throughout the city pearl-oyster shells glittered 
from steeples and pinnacles, and from the turreted 
bell -towers at the street corners, every morning at 
sunrise, came discordant peals, accompanied by the 
clang of cathedral bells, filling the streets with pious 
worshippers slowly and silently wending their way to 
church. On feast days which were many, the city 
flaunted her bravest finery, and looked not unlike a 
wrinkled beldame in gaudy attire. Gaily dressed 
men and women, proudly sporting their Spanish cloaks, 
and darker-skinned natives in white costumes, marched 


the streets from one bedizened altar to another, while 
the shaven priest with his peculiar hat, long black 
robe with bright satin lining, small clothes fastened 
at the knee with golden buckles, white silk stockings, 
slippered feet, and cigar, surveyed with zealous inter- 
est the effect of his enlightened teachings. 

But on all days were seen stealthy coffee-colored 
men with thin sinewy limbs; stealthy half-naked 
women with twinkling jet eyes and bronze bust glis- 
tening in the palpitating light; girls and boys sur- 
rounded with cocoanuts, oranges, and limes, bananas, 
eggs, and flowers of shell work. There were avenues 
of fruit and vegetable stalls ; while through the open 
doors under the veranda the more aristocratic traf- 
fickers displayed their dry goods, groceries, and liquors. 

The main streets in the central part of the city 
were lined with hotels, shops, and gambling saloons, 
newly whitewashed and adorned with flaming sign- 
boards in English vocables, while on nearly every 
other house waved the stars and stripes. This busy 
renovated centre was flanked by crumbling vine-clad 
walls and mouldering ruins. In its palmy days the 
two sides of the town facing the sea were protected by 
batteries, and the sides toward the land by a high 
wall with watch-towers and moat. The bastions 
were constructed at different times as necessity de- 
manded, and presented an irregular appearance ; and 
though the walls were high the fortifications were not 
strong. Panama was divided into two parishes, one, 
the city proper, lying within the wall, and called 
San Felipe, the other, that portion without the wall 
called Santa Ana. Two large gates opened toward 
the sea and two toward the land; the latter once 
strongly fortified were entered by drawbridges. The 
popular promenade was the rampart, round whose 
tottering walls and ragged turrets were scattered the 
dismantled guns of brass, so richly wrought and so 
carefully embossed by the great foundries of Barcelona. 

The private houses of San Felipe were mostly of 


stone, those of Santa Ana of wood. They had tiled 
roofs, unglazed windows, small halls, with doorways 
large enough to admit a man on horseback, through 
which the air might circulate freely. The heavy 
wooden balconies, which were universal, served at 
once for all possible purposes. One would there place 
his kitchen, another his lamidry, another his bath- 
room ; they were likewise used for reception room, 
garden, and promenade. The family living in tlie 
upper apartments, the ground floor was usually let for 
shops or manufacturing purposes, or, it may be, occu- 
pied by servants. Santa Ana was composed of a 
poorer population, mechanics and laborers, and thcbe 
arranged their households as best they could, some 
living with rats, pigs, and chickens in a style inferior 
to that found in the villages of the natives. Houses 
decayed rapidly, and owners and tenants alike appeared 
averse to making repairs. Sometimes the dirty walls 
were whitewashed at the beginning of the dry season, 
and the holes of the comej en-eaten woodwork filled 
with green paint, but often doors and balconies were 
left unwashed and unpainted. Water was brought on 
mules from a river three miles distant, and emptied 
into porous jars placed in niches in front of the better 
houses, where it was kept cool by evaporation. The 
rooms of the city houses were usually large and airy, 
the ceilings high and unlined ; they had no chimneys, 
cooking being done in the court-yard, or on the floor 
or stone table of the kitchen. In most of the rooms 
were hammocks, in which lazy men and loosely robed 
women lounged away the time. 

All sorts of costumes were worn by men and women 
of every mingled shade of color, Caucasian, American, 
and African. The native female was satisfied with a 
simple skirt; the Creole loved a white cotton skirt 
flounced and trimmed with lace, with low, loose, 
sleeveless waist, leather or satin slippers, and a jipijapa 
hat ; the Spanish gentleman who had not yet adopted 
European fashions delighted in white linen pantaloons 

DRESS. 183 

and vest, a loose coat of the thinnest material, and a 
broad brimmed jipijapa hat of fine texture; while the 
African, breeched or unbreeched, broiled in simplicity 
unconstrained* The nationality of foreigners disap-- 
peared under the hizarrerie of their accoutrements; 
the gentleman gold-hunter found a woollen shirt, 
cotton pantaloons, and straw hat very comfortable. 
Jipijapa hats, commonly called Panamd hats, are not 
made in Panama, but in Peru and elsewhere. They 
might be had for two or three dollars, and up to fifty, 
and even more. The Spanish Creole gentleman, who 
is usually slight but wiry, in complexion sallow, with 
black hair and eyes, and always a moustache, if his 
purse permitted would wear white pants, and appear 
to the best advantage. There was no lack of beauty 
shining from the half veiled faces of the sciioritas, 
with their white dresses, in red and yellow ribbon 
trimmings, and bright colored slippers often covering 
stockingless feet. The dress of the better class was 
at this time becoming European, black being the pre- 
vailing color. 

The population of the Isthmus consisted mostly of 
natives. Some parts of the country had not been 
conquered, and several of those conquered had been 
abandoned by the conquerors, who found it beyond 
their power to occupy them and subdue nature, even 
if unmolested or assisted by the Indians. Besides 
Indian and African, and Indian and Spanish inter- 
mixtures, Spanish was infinitely crossed with African, 
of which Carib blood was then most prominent. These 
remarks refer especially to the coast region. In the 
interior departments, like that of Chiriqui, a purer 
white element predominated then as now. The most 
dangerous characters were the vagabonds from the 
shores of the Antilles, who had been drawn to the 
Isthmus since the Californian passenger trafiic com- 
menced. The government, not having the means to 
support a sufficiently large police force, such as the 
existing circumstances demanded, authorized the rail- 


road company to assume the protection of life and 
property on the transit, with power virtually to inflict 
condign punishment on criminals. The force organ- 
ized while the railway was being built consisted ef 
forty men, motley in color, costume, and character, 
but very efficient, and was under the command of a 
delicate, boyish-looking, but most energetic Texan 
ranger, named Ran Runnels. Though this force had 
no jurisdiction in the city of Panamd, it occasionally 
made arrests of desperate characters within the walls, 
the criminals receiving their punishment without. 
This irregularity was winked at by the authorities. 
In a short time the Isthmus was free of the numerous 
malefactors, which had been drawn from all parts of 
the world to prey upon travellers crossing from ocean 
to ocean. 

The climate of the Isthmus is very hot on the 
coasts, but on the sides of the mountains in the interior 
it is comparatively cool and healthy. The city of 
Panama is the healthiest sea-board spot in this region, 
miasmatic fever being prevalent almost everywhere 
else. Besides standing out in the sea as it does, the 
waters of the ocean playing upon three sides of it, 
and from which it receives breezes opposing the 
insalubrious air of the interior, there stands the hill 
Ancon at the rear of the peninsula, forming a natural 
barrier to the poison-breathing swamps of the Rio 
Grande beyond. With proper care, and avoiding the 
abuse of spirituous liquors, a foreigner may safely live 
in Panamd, the year round; indeed, during the dry 
season, which is from the middle of December to the 
middle of May, with the strong northerly winds which 
then prevail, and the absence of heavy rains, the cli- 
mate is both delightful and wholesome. 

The bay of Panama is a picture of languid beauty. 
It is large and open, yet well protected, but so shal- 
low near the town that large vessels are obliged to 
anchor two or three miles off shore. On one side is 
the sea into which it opens, spreading out for ten 


thousand miles, north, south, and west, rolling up the 
bay for ninety miles its slow, strong, eternal swells, 
while in the background banks of dark green foliage 
rise from the white sandy beach, and swelling into 
hills and mountains, disappear in the distant clouds. 
Pyramids of green verdure, made purple by distance, 
rise from the azure sea, and mingle with the azure 
heavens. Looking southward from the fortifications 
you see Flamenco, Perico, and Llenao or Islanao, and 
beyond some three leagues away is the island of Ta- 
boga, near which the coaling vessels rest at an- 
chor. The island is about a mile and a half 
long by half a mile wide, and has its semi-European 
town, and its native population, with their hamlets of 
bamboo huts. Far away toward the east, over indo- 
lent waters reflecting the blue sky, the sun's glare 
softened by the breath of summer mists, past little 
paradises of brilliant green seemingly floating on the 
placid surface which mirrors their foliage, are the 
Pearl islands, where Vasco Nunez and his crew an- 
chored the ships which they had brought with so 
much labor and peril across this formidable Isthmus. 
On the island of San Miguel, the largest of the Pearl 
archipelago, is situated the town of the same name, 
where the unbreeched natives used to deck their tawny 
skin with gems that would make the eyes of a city 
belle sparkle with delight, and ebony pearl merchants 
displayed their wares, haggling in the sale of them 
with all tlie cultivated cunning of a Jew. 

Panamd patched and whitewashed under the new 
regime oflered a seemingly grand array of comforts 
after our late privations. At the hotel we found cot 
beds, one to a man, although there were many men 
to a room. Here was a new field for fretting and 
brain-whetting, and well the gold hunters improved 
the opportunity. The streets were crowded day and 
night with Californian emigrants. Outside the town 
were encampments of them, apparently as comforta- 


ble in their tents as were their brethren in the ex- 
pensive city hotels. 

Here, waiting and watching, some of them for 
weeks and months, for an opportunity to get away, 
they continued the process of moral declination and 
decivilization. Fledglings fresh from their mothers, 
little mammon-dried men, and tall hairy fellows, 
armed to the teeth and streaming with perspira- 
tion, strolled about the streets, watching the fruit- 
venders, and water-carriers, ogling the bare-breasted 
girls, pricing hats, looking wistfully at the tempting 
catalogue of iced drinks through the open doors of 
the saloons; or, entering the churches, they would 
stalk about the isles, peer into the nmsty confessional 
boxes and thrust tlieir impious fingers through the 
lattice, push their way into secret corners, invade the 
precincts of the altar and profanely handle the orna- 
ments, and sneer, in their superior conceptions of 
God-worship, at all this clap-trap of the devil, as they 
called it. 

Some few of the aspiring sort studied Spanish, or 
essayed some knowledge of the history of crumbling 
relics ; some played billiards, or gambled, or got 
drunk; some fished, gathered shells, braved the 
sharks and bathed, hunted monkeys and parroquets, 
or sat under old vine-clad walls gazing at the hum- 
ming birds as they buzzed about the flowers. Some 
died of fever; others killed themselves by drinking 
villainous liquors, eating excessively of fruit, or by 
overdosing with pills, patent medicines, cholera pre- 
ventives, and like supposed antidotes to supposed 
impending disease. Once seized with sickness and 
without a faithful comrade, a man's chance for recov- 
ery was small ; for already a coating of callous indif- 
ference to the sufferings of others seemed to be 
enclosing the hearts of many of these adventurers, 
and a pale fever-stricken stranger was too often 
shunned like a leper. 

The morning after our arrival, and for days there- 


after, we were in tribulation about our baggage, 
which the packers failed to deliver as they had prom- 
ised. Gradually the truth dawned upon us that this 
was one of the tricks of the trade ; and when after 
waiting a week, and considering the distance from 
Gorgona was only twenty-five miles, which could be 
easily made in a day and a night, when we and many 
others were obliged to go forward without our bag- 
gage, we were satisfied, as we afterward learned to be 
the truth, that we had been systematically swindled. 
The fact was that civilization, under the impulse of the 
gold-fever, had so tinctured this Isthmian wilderness 
as to have overturned the influence of the simple- 
minded savage, thus giving up travellers to men 
more rapacious than beasts, which will not prey 
upon their kind. At Chagres and on the river, 
transportation had been left mainly to Creoles and 
natives, as the occupation was too hazardous to health 
for the shrewd northerners to undertake it ; but Gor- 
gona and Panamd were comparatively healthy, and 
here sliarpers might take their stand and levy toll. 
The native and mongrel races were not bad enough 
nor bold enough for the situation. These could prac- 
tise extortion on a small scale, but the cocking of a 
pistol or the flash of a knife-blade usually brought 
reparation. Here indeed was a field for nobler talent. 
Hitherto, and for the last three centuries, dark- 
skinned carriers had been content to appropriate only 
a part of the eflccts committed to their care, and col- 
lect freight on the portion delivered ; but for the double- 
edo^cd son of a hioher order of culture and broader 
views such dealings were too tame. So he instituted 
a reform, weiohed bao-crao-e at Gorgona or Cruces, 
and collected the freight in advance, ten or fifteen 
cents a pound to Panama, then he could deliver such 
portions as policy dictated, and keep the remainder 
having secured the freight on it in advance in case it 
should prove not worth the transportation. This 
system I afterward learned from sources unquestiona- 


ble, had been regularly practised by men appearing 
to be New Englanders and New Yorkers from the es- 
tablishment of the steamship line. Passengers as a 
rule were helpless ; for when the steamer was ready, 
they were obliged to go on board, and their baggage 
was not worth the cost of hunting it. From the 
first appearance of foreign travellers in these parts, it 
has been a notorious fact, and of current remark, that 
of all robbers and swindlers on the Isthmus white 
men were the worst, and compared to them the na- 
tives were humane, faithful, and honest. 

The steamers here took in coal and provisions, beef, 
fowl, and swine, flour and general groceries, oranges, 
pineapples, citrons and bananas, and liquors of all sorts. 
Quite a traffic was sometimes done here in tickets by 
brokers; some, to save, would sell their steamer 
ticket and take passage on a sailing vessel, which they 
afterward too often found of that class whose captain 
and officers were accustomed to take in so much wine 
and spirits that they would forget to take in any 

After a week's detention the steamer Panama an- 
nounced her readiness to receive passengers, of which 
opportunity we all made quick avail. With our ef- 
fects shrunken to the easy compass of our hands, we 
left our hotel, walked down the street, and out through 
the great gate, to the shore of the bay. There we 
found stationed just beyond the surf that broke upon 
the white beach, a row of boats ready to convey pas- 
sengers to the steamer, with porters and boatmen to 
carry us through the foam to the boat. Wading to 
the edge of the water the boatmen would stoop their 
ebony shoulders and back up to us invitingly. Women 
w^ere picked up in their arms, and handled most ten- 
derly for such sooty savages. Sometimes stepping on 
a slippery stone, down man and rider would both go 
into the brine, amidst the shouts of the lookers-on. 
But this happened very seldom; the wide, bare, 
leathery feet of the carriers were usually quite sure. 


Mounting a naked broad back, we were carried 
through the surf, dumped into the boat and rowed to 
the ship. On arriving at the gangway, we were 
obliged to show our tickets, every species of trickery 
being resorted to by a certain class on shore to get 
themselves forward without paying their passage. 
The passengers then formed themselves into a line 
before the purser's office window, and when all were 
on board rooms and berths were allotted. 

Thus in this Isthmus transit, we find the history of 
every man who made it a unique experience, which 
acted powerully upon the recasting of his character — 
a fit preparation for the baptism which was to follow 
his landing in California. 



We have had enough of action, and of motion we, 

Rolled to starboard, rolled to larboard, when the surge was seething free, 
Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea. 

— The Lotos-Eaters. 

While here upon the Isthmus, and before proceed- 
ing on our journey to San Francisco, let us glance at 
the route round the continent, that we may be better 
able to make comparisons as we go along. 

There have been many remarkable voyages to Cal- 
ifornia by sailing vessels, as well from Panama to San 
Francisco as round Cape Horn; there have been 
many adventures connected with them far more thrill- 
ing than any that occurred in the voyages by steamer. 
The voyage round the Horn, as it was called, did not 
differ materially from sea voyages elsewhere; that 
from Panama to San Francisco had at this time a 
marked individuality, a few examples of which I will 

The rickety schooner Dolphin, of 100 tons, left Pa- 
nama in January 1849, with forty-five persons. After 
putting into several ports for supplies, the passengers 
had to abandon the craft at Mazatlan and tran'sfer 
themselves to the bark Matilda. They finally reached 
San Francisco on the 6th of May, having spent 110 
days on the voyage from Panaml 

But the career of the Do/p/^m was not yet at an 
end. Certain gold-seeking waifs then in Mazatlan, 
anxious to reach California, bought and refitted her. 



She sailed on the 1 5th of April with no less than six- 
ty-eight persons, among whom were some who in lat- 
ter years acquired more or less distinction in California. 
In the course of the voyage they underwent much 
suffering, scarcity of water contributing thereto. A 
number of the company, driven to desperation, landed 
in Lower California, and made their way north on 
foot. Reaching Kosario with the greatest difficulty, 
they sighted two vessels, one the Dolphin and the 
other an Italian bark. The latter took some of the 
schooner's passengers away with her, and a few of the 
land party returned to their own old craft, the rest 
preferring to continue their journey up the coast. The 
latter after undergoing many hardsliips reached San 
Diego on the 24th of June. As for the Dolphin, she 
went into San Diego harbor in a sinking condition, and 
was condemned and sold without more ado. One of 
her passengers had died on the voyage. 

The vicissitudes of a party on l3oard the schooner 
San Blasena, of thirty -five tons, which sailed from 
Mazatlan in May of the same year, were in many re- 
spects the counteri)art of those suffered by the Dol- 
phin's people. Some of their number were taken off 
by another vessel at sea; the rest abandoned the craft 
on the coast of Lower California, and made their way 
on foot, carrying their effects on their backs, to Todos 
Santos, where they procured mules, and on the 24th 
of May set out for La Paz. On the journey they 
suffered greatly for want of provisions and water. 
Finally, on the 11th of August, they fell in with 
Emory's surve3dng party at tlie initial point of the 
Mexican boundary line. Meanwhile the San Blasena 
left San Jose del Cabo, and completed her voyage at 
Monterey, after the manner of the Dolphin, on the 1st 
of July. 

Another of the land journeys up the peninsula was 
that of J. W. Venable, who came from Kentucky via 
Panamd in 1849, and was a, member of the state as- 
sembly from Los Angeles in 1873, and who travelled 


on foot with two or three companions from Agua 
Dulce, on the coast of Lower CaHfornia, to San Fran- 
cisco, about twelve hundred miles. They had been 
obhged to land by reason of the slowness of their ship, 
scarcity of water, and stubbornness of their captain. 
They arrived at San Francisco before the ship. 
The latter took 166 days for the trip. 

But even crazy sailing vessels were better than 
dug-out canoes, in which some started on the long 
voyage from Panamd, to San Francisco. Bayard 
Taylor states that in the early part of 1849, when 
three thousand persons were waiting on the Isthmus 
for conveyance to the new El Dorado, several small 
parties started in log canoes of the natives, thinking 
to reach San Francisco in them. After a voyage of 
forty days, during which they went no farther than 
the island of Quibo, at the mouth of the gulf, nearly 
all of them returned. Of the rest, nothing was ever 
heard. On other authority, we are informed that 
twenty-three men left Panama on the 29th of May, 
1849, in a dug-out canoe, for San Francisco. None 
of these madmen ever proceeded far on the road; 
neither did many of them ever return. 

Returning to our voyage by steamer. "Ah I" ex- 
claims the enthusiastic lover of California, immediately 
his foot touches the well-scrubbed deck of the Pacific 
Mail steamer in Panama bay, ''such is California, 
such the superiority of the new over the old. As the 
Atlantic st'jamer is to the Pacific steamer, as Aspin- 
wall is to Panamd, so is your cold, dull, eastern coast 
to our warm, bright, western coast." 

In due time a steam tender conveyed travellers 
from the company's wharf to the steamer at anchor 
some three miles away. On account of the tide, 
which rises and falls about seventeen feet at neap, 
and twenty-two feet at spring tides, the tender can 
float at the wharf only twice in twenty-four hours. 
Low water spring tides lay bare the beach for a mile 


and a half from the wharf, while at high tide the top 
of the wharf is nearly awash. Later, toward the six- 
ties, the railway company arranged the arrival of 
trains so that there might be no detention ; passengers 
then stepped from the cars to the tender, and were 
soon on board the steamer. This arrangement was 
adopted in consequence of the riots which broke out 
on the 15th of April, 1856, during which the negroes 
of the arrabal assailed 250 or 300 passengers from the 
steamship Illinois, while they were procuring their 
tickets at the Panama depot, a number of persons 
on both sides being killed or wounded. Much prop- 
erty was also plundered by the rabble. To avert a 
recurrence of such scenes, passengers to and from 
California in future traversed the Isthmus without 
detention. Usually some time elapsed after the pas- 
sengers were settled in their rooms before the sailing 
of the steamer, as the baggage, fast freight, and mails 
came aftt r the passengers, so that there w^as time to 
enjoy another view of the surroundings, under that 
sense of satisfaction and rest which ahvays attended 
the establishing of one's self in the new quarter. 
There is now no more change; the horrors of the 
Isthmus are past; a fortnight's home is found, and 
the traveller feels almost at the end of his journey. 

Much pleasanter on the Pacific is the voyage usually 
than on the Atlantic. As I have said, the steamers 
are larger and more comfortable. The temper of the 
passengers, like the Pacific, is smoother. In one re- 
spect it seems almost like beginning the journey anew, 
this reembarkation at Panama, there is such a general 
shaking up and repartitioning that one wonders where 
so many new faces came from. 

Lounging inert and listless under the awning on 
the upper deck, with the bay spread out before you 
in all its glorious beauties like a breathing panorama, 
with the evergreen isles rising from the mirror-like 
surface of the water, and the old-time city in the 
distance, the authoritative hill of Ancon marking the. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 13 


city of to-day, and the tomb-tower of San Ger6nimo 
designating the site of old Panamd, which the bold 
buccaneers ravished with such a relish ; the hazy moun- 
tains beyond, with their curiously shaped crests — ^thus 
quietly watching the boats come and go, the fruit- 
venders dispensing their wares, the sea-birds circling 
round the ship, and turkey-buzzards solemnly sailing 
through the air; listening to the friendly waters which 
lap the smooth sides of our monster vessel, with the 
softly perfumed air that wanders objectless between the 
sea and the low-lying sky, there comes stealing in upon 
the senses a delicious repose. Up to this point, and for 
several months past, mind and body have been upon the 
rack about this California expedition. There were 
the preparations, the adieux, the embarkation, the 
voyage, the Isthmus ; then there is the remainder of 
it, the voyage up the coast, the landing, the new life, 
with all its desperate ventures and uncertainties; but 
here, for the moment, is perfect rest, earth, sea, and 
sky combining to intoxicate the senses, enrapture the 
soul, and overspread all with a sensuous tranquillity 
and calm. 

At this time the commander of our steamer, which 
was the Panama, was that veteran of the Pacific Mail 
Steamship Company, Watkins, called commodore ; and 
among the five hundred and ninety-four passengers 
were Mr Hutchins, Mrs Davenport, Gihon, Maguire, 
and others notable in the annals of California. Late 
in the afternoon of the 12th of March, the chain 
from the buoy was dropped, and clearing the islands, ; 
in an hour we came abreast of Taboga — to Panamd, ' 
what Capri is to Naples, but more beautiful. Oranges 
and tamarinds fringe the beach ; the glass-green foliage > 
of cocoa and banana trees sweep from the valley up ' 
the hillsides a thousand feet. Then we sailed down 
past Bona and Otoque, rounded Punta Mala, some : 
ninety miles southward from our anchorage, and were 
fairly out at sea, with the warm bay of Panamd, and 
its quaint; old; dreary town, wakened once a century 


by a PIzarro, a Morgan, or an influx of Califomian 
gold- seekers, far behind. That night a thunder 
shower attended us. There was no wind to speak of, 
only rain and lightning and cloud-ripping blasts — not 
the old-fashioned rolling artillery, and fire-lined, forked 
flashes of northern heavens, but sharp, angry, snap- 
pish blasts, an electrical whip-cracking, accompanied 
by torrents of light streaming from gulches sky-fur- 
rowed from horizon to zenith. For hours this luminous 
darkness hovered round our ship, between the ex- 
tremes of alternate pitchy blackness and bright, glar- 
ing light. Toward morning all was still, and the sun 
rose on an ocean with a face as sweet and peaceful as 
the sleeping babe of Bethlehem. 

Next day the Panama sighted the promontory of 
Veraguas, a grand coast with grander mountains. 
Steaming lazily along through the quiet waters, like 
the chariot of Poseidon, attracting round us myriads 
of the monsters of the deep sporting and gamboling 
on every side, with the load of cares behind unbur- 
dened, and the load before us not yet put on, time 
and observation seemed to expand with the expand- 
ing sea. Gossips took heart ; matrons smiled serenely ; 
paterfamilias grew jocund; attention turned toward 
comfort, reading, and amusements. Gallants mixed 
huge pitchers of iced punch and therewith regaled the 
ladies. Gamblmg, which in the earlier voyages mo- 
nopolized the saloon, had very rightly been prohibited 
on board the company's vessels ; yet there was plenty 
of card-playing in the state-rooms, where the occu- 
pants could gamble to their heart's content, and lesser 
games obtained on capstan, bench, and skylight. 
Three evils the law seems powerless to control, gamb- 
ling, drunkenness, and the social evil ; which with 
like social phenomena seem to say that law, so far as 
possible, should let the individual alone, nor place its 
grasp upon him but to prevent his interference with 
the rights of others. Self-injury is a moral wrong 
touching which the law appears to be inoperative; 


injury to another is a legal wrong whose proper prov- 
ince it is the law's to check. With diminished at- 
tempts at religious proselyting, a laissez-faire system 
in personal morals, and less political engineering, our 
civilization would speedily assume fairer and purer 
proportions. Let parents and teachers build up them- 
selves and the young in the strength of personal re- 
sponsibility and moral rectitude, for in no other way 
can certain evils be overcome ; then we may leave law 
for thieves and murderers. On the steamer, bets 
were made on daily distances, on the time of arrival 
at any point, on the height or weight of any person 
or thing, on the time in which coat and boots could 
be taken off and put on, and on anything that hap- 
pened to strike the fancy, however absurd. 

During the long voyage there was ample time to 
take a survey of the past, to reckon accounts with 
providence, to apply the touchstone of experience to 
natural qualities; a farther vision opened to the eye, 
sight was not bounded by the horizon. The im- 
prisoned traveller saw clearly back to his boyhood in 
a swift series of pictures like those which flash upon 
the brain of a drowning man ; and when his thoughts 
were turned toward the future, it was with a clearer 
and more discriminating survey than any hitherto 

In these early days of California voyaging, there 
were always two or three among the passengers who 
set up for geniuses, self-constituted court fools. Usu- 
ally they were young men rustically or provincially 
bred, who were now for the first time absent from 
home, and who seemed to feel that the time and place 
had arrived in which their talents should unfold. 
They sought fame in various ways — by much and 
heavy walking about the ship, by scowling, by swag- 
gering, by boisterous talking and coarse laughing, 
and by practical jokes played to the infinite disgust 
of their supposed admirers. Sometimes they were 
joined by brazen-faced or ambitious young women, 


and sets would be formed which would vie with each 
other in rendering themselves disagreeably conspicuous. 

To the refined and sensitive, such an infliction, 
from which there was no escape for days and weeks, 
was torture. Of all the miseries I ever experienced 
on shipboard, sea-sickness, tempest, filth, and fever 
included, by far the worst has been the crowd, among 
whom were always some supremely disgusting per- 
sons whose presence one could not escape. Many a 
hateful face haunted me long after I had left the 
ship. But such of course were exceptions ; b}^ far the 
greater part of the emigrants were quiet, orderly, and 
well behaved, and many of them courteous, gentle- 
manly, and self-sacrificing under the most trying 

To cite one example. When the steamer Central 
America went down off Cape Hatteras, with five or 
six hundred homeward bound Californians, it was the 
theme of thousands throughout Christendom how 
nobly they behaved, how they chivalrously filled the 
boats with women and children, and then how bravely 
and unflinchingly they died. No company of cour- 
tiers, no band of martyrs, no regiment of soldiers 
trained to look indifferently on death, could have 
more calmly faced an awful fate than did these young 
and ardent adventurers picked from every nationality. 
They were men! 

No man knows himself, much less his neighbor, 
until he has made a voyage in an over-crowded ship 
in hot weather. One is hungry without an appetite, 
oppressed with thirst that water will not quench ; one 
is stimulated by ocean oxygen, nauseated by steamer 
smells ; a prickly heat breaks out over the body, and 
the mind becomes feverish and fretful. Hence it is 
that latent characteristics, of which the possessor 
himself was not conscious, are developed. General 
traits are intensified or obliterated; the mean man 
becomes meaner, the hitherto good-hearted and frank 
may become angelic, or fall into the depths, according 


to his moral anatomy or the chemistry of his compo- 
sition, and the action of environment upon it aU. 

The prevailing winds along this coast are southerly 
during summer, and northerly during the winter 
months ; so that after leaving Punta Mala our captain 
kept well in shore, which here is high, and bold, and 
covered with rich foliage down to the water's edge. 
Passing Punta Mariato our course was still due west, 
until we cleared the palm-covered island in the vicin- 
ity, uninhabited save by monkeys and birds of bril- 
liant plumage, when we took a more northerly direc- 
tion along the shores of Nueva Granada, Costa Pica, 
and Nicaragua, over whose lakes and rivers Gil Gon- 
zalez and his crew crept so cautiously. The second 
day saw us off San Juan del Sur, where those who 
made the journey by way of Nicaragua took ship for 
San Francisco. 

By the Nicaragua route passengers disembarked 
on the Atlantic side at San Juan del Norte, otherwise 
called Greytown. Stepping from the ocean steamer 
on board a steam river craft, they ascended the San 
Juan river to the Machuca Papids, where they landed 
and walked a portage of about a mile, while the lug- 
gage was conveyed up the rapids in bongos manned 
by naked, long-haired, tawny natives. Above the 
Machuca rapids, smaller steamboats carried them 
to the Castillo rapids, where there was another por- 
tage of half a mile. Then taking another and a 
larger steamboat, they continued up the river to San 
Cdrlos, crossed Lake Nicaragua to La Yirgen, and 
thence proceeded overland by mules, or on foot, to 
San Juan del Sur on the Pacific, where they reem- 
barked on board an ocean steamer for San Francisco. 
The whole distance is about 165 miles, though in- 
cluding the bends in the river it is oftener reckoned 
at more; 75 miles on the river, the same on the lake, 
and twelve or fifteen miles overland to the ocean. 
By the Panama route, before the building of the rail- 


way, about 70 miles were travelled in crossing. 
Though the distance from ocean to ocean was greater 
by the Nicaragua route, the land travel was less ; 
and from New York to San Francisco, via Nicaragua, 
the whole distance was about 1,000 miles shorter 
than by way of Panamd. This was in later years — 
1855-57 — the time of filibuster Walker's exploits, 
which I have fully narrated in another volume of 
this series. His ill-advised act of confiscating the 
transit Company's river and lake steamers contributed 
to his ruin; for by stopping the further transit of 
passengers to and from California by this route, he 
deprived himself of the only means to swell his ranks 
— thinned daily by disease, desertion, and hostile 
bullets — with foreign recruits; superadded to which 
was the roused vengeance of the company, who fur- 
nished ample resources to his enemies to accomplish 
his destruction. 

In the scenery, there is more variety and grandeur 
along the river and lake Nicaragua, than up the 
Chagres and across to Panamd. San Juan del Norte 
is an old Spanish town, consisting of about fifty bam- 
boo and thatched houses, with some shingled tene- 
ments of later date, containing at the time of wLich 
I write an extremely mixed population of about five 
hundred. The town is situated in a small cove formed 
by a long narrow strip of land known as Punta 
Arenas, which from the steamer looks more like an 
island than a cape. The surrounding country is low 
and unheal thful, and the surface densely matted with 
tufted grass and undergrowth mingled with forests of 
smooth-barked vine-clad trees. Turkey-buzzards, alli- 
gators, and monkeys claim equal rights with mongrel 
men to the occupation and enjoyment of the country. 

Though steam was employed in making the ascent 
of the San Juan, there was scarcely more comfort 
than in journeying on the Chagres. Small stern- 
wheel boats plied from rapid to rapid and across the 
lake; into them were driven promiscuously, men, 


women, and children of all classes, black, white, and 
mulatto, and herded like cattle without privacy or 
restraint, without rooms or berths. Thus were the 
tired travellers kept for two or three days and as 
many sickening sleepless nights ; the decent and re- 
fined portion continually hearing the vile language of 
the obscene and blasphemous. 

Some there were, however, who could forget their 
discomforts, and lose themselves in the contemplation 
of nature's magnificence. Canopied by broad-topped 
trees, slender and white-limbed, with their bright 
foliage fluttering like spangles in the sunshine, by 
lofty palms whose tasselled branches bent gracefully 
over the banks down to the water's brim, passing 
Arcadian isles rich in tropical plants and perfumes, 
the frouzy boat with its confused cargo of panting 
gold-hunters, wound with the winding stream, round 
among snags, and shoals, and rapids, up and onward 
toward the empire of their gilded hopes. 

Dark, deep-red lignum vitse and caoutchouc, bananas 
and plantains with their long smooth leaves, and ' 
scattering sugar-cane with high tasselled crests, 
shelter lovingly the mammoth red and yellow flowers 
that fringe the stream. Thousands of black, brown, 
and gray monkeys hold their conventions on both sides 
of the river, and make their exhibitions on the trees, 
leaping from limb to limb and catching and swinging 
themselves violently, suspended by the tail, grinning 
and chattering, and screaming in jubilant mocker}^ to 
the pitiful dirt-diggers, in whom they seem to recog- 
nize a degeneration of their own species. Surely they 
of the forest are fittest and will survive. 

At an island eighteen miles from the bay, whose 
keeper had a small white neat board house and a 
garden, the steamboat stopped to wood. 

Ascending the river, nature spreads out in broader 
and ever increasing sublimity. The foliage assumes 
statelier proportions ; the forests are grander, and the 
mountains higher. Pendant from the limbs of tall 


trees are long, leafless, rope-like vines, straight as a 
stretched line, or twisted and coiled, extending from 
tree to tree in graceful festoons. The sky seems lit- 
erally a-thrill with birds of bright plumage and sweet 
song, of endless colors and species — conspicuous among 
which is the bright, crimson muca, with its long, fan- 
feathers tipped in black. 

At Castillo rapid there is a town called Castillo, of 
about one hundred inhabitants, and standing on a hill 
near by an old ruined fort, which in its palmy days 
presented formidable opposition to unfriendly ascents 
of the river. Though built principally of brick and 
cement, there are sections of it in stone. In shape it 
is quadrangular, three stories, or sections, in height, 
with a broad flat top, and parapet six feet high, with 
embrasures on either side. Without, and also within 
the first section, are deep moats, and in the interior 
are dark vaults connected by narrow passages. There 
were several hotels at Castillo, and passengers some- 
times rested there for the night. 

Approaching the lakes, the flora dwindles to low 
bushy palms and short coarse grass. At San Cdrlos, 
at the outlet of Lake Nicaragua, there is a dilapidated 
fort, similar to Fort Castillo, though less formidable. 
Between the fortress and the lake is a town of about 
twenty-five small thatched houses. 

Lake Nicaragua presents a scene of rare sublimity. 
The oblong inland sea, a hundred miles and more in 
length by sixty miles in width, its waters isle-dotted 
and crystalline, basks under a tropical sky of livid 
purple tone, and from its swelling shores, hills and 
mountains lift themselves into mists thickened by 
smoking volcanic peaks. Rising from the very midst 
of the water is the slumbering volcano Ometepe, with 
its twin brother Madera, whose cone-shaped crests 
are four and five thousand feet above the surface of 
the lake, and whose circumference at the base is 
nearly forty miles. On its western shore is Virgin 
bay, a dirty little town with a dozen dirty little tav- 


erns, where passengers feed, and swing their hammockg 
for the night. During the day one may bathe here 
in safety, as it is said the alhgators frequent this por- 
tion of the lake only during the night. Very kind of 
the alligators. 

Across the narrow strip of land, the only bar to un- 
interrupted water communication between the two 
oceans, travellers proceed on mules and donkeys, 
women riding some side-ways and some astride. The 
ride is delightful. Half the way the road is level 
and straight, covered by a dark forest so dense in 
places that there seems scarcely standing room for 
the trees ; and the interstices are so filled with matted 
branches, leaves, coppice, parasites, and other vines, 
as in places to prevent the sun's rays from ever touch- 
ing the ground. The remainder of the road winds 
through rolling hills, then scales a lofty mountain, and 
descends to the sea. Thirty board houses, shingled 
and painted, stretched along the shore of a small bay 
constitutes the town of San Juan del Sur, which 
seems to be a cross between Chagres and Aspinwall. 
As at Panamd, the shelving beach does not permit 
the small boats to approach nearer than about twen- 
ty-five yards from the water's edge, and passengers 
must be carried aboard on the backs of the boatmen. 
Here steamers anchor about one hundred and fifty 
yards from land. 

A hundred miles north we pass Kealejo, one of the 
coal stations of the Nicaraguan line. The harbor is 
a good one, being an indentation of the shore line 
with an island at the entrance. Three miles from the 
town, which consists of one-story tiled adobe houses, 
and contains a squalid population of about four hun- 
dred persons, a dock has been built, to which ocean 
vessels may be made fast. 

Thus the Central American coast is passed; and 
thus racing with the sun, down toward the equator, 
and up toward the pole, round by the southern cross, 


we work our way westward. To keep the time 
watches must be set back from five to twenty minutes 
daily. New pastimes are now sought out and new 
plays invented. Lovers whose acquaintance dates 
from the Atlantic steamer settle down to business ; 
sighing to the monotonous oscillations of the engine- 
beam, watching the play of porpoises and the posing 
and circling of the light-winged sea-birds, sweltering 
fondly through the live-long day, fanning, sucking 
oranges, drinking iced punches, pretending to read; 
at sunset tracing weird pictures on the illuminated 
horizon, building fantastic castles and fitting to them 
the gorgeous tracery of the iridescent west, sailing on 
purple-misted lakes, and sitting by silver channels 
through which, round leaden rocks and black crags, 
the flowing foam dashes at their feet, billing and coo- 
ing beneath fleecy foliage tender with amethyst, beryl, 
and gold, filling the sky with yet other strange con- 
ceits, monsters, and birds, and elfin images, and fairy 
forms ; and as the palpitating twilight quickly deep- 
ens, seek some quiet nook and gaze alternately at 
stars and eyes, and holding willing hands, trace the 
belt of Orion and draw pictures of earthly Edens. 

Ah! those sunsets at seal Of all the gorgeous 
displays of nature, nothing excels the rising and the 
setting of the sun upon a tropical sea. All day the 
benignant source of light pursues its tireless course, 
and as it sinks to rest, paints its good-night promise 
of return upon the cloudy canvas of the sky. Paus- 
ing on the ocean's brink, it turns, and flings back, in 
the plenitude of its power, a flood of colors which 
shames the puny efforts of art to imitate, and with its 
diverging rays metamorphoses the poised vapors into 
countless images, made real by the imagination of the 
observer. These vapors, beaten into being from the 
broad, watery expanse, rally from every quarter to 
curtain their author's decline, and catch the lustre of 
his departing glories. In this incomparable display 
of light, seen in its perfection only in the tropics, the 


vital power of the sun is modified by tlie humidity of 
the air which it has called up during the day, and 
which tinges the celestial blue with dark azure, fills 
the heavens with delicate crimson and roseate tints, 
and turns the sky into gleaming gold. Solar fires 
are reflected upon the surface of the agitated waters, 
and all the west is red with slain sunlight. 

The setting sun is almost always accompanied by 
clouds, which, owing to the curvature of the earth, 
though seemingly touching the water's edge, may be 
two miles above the ocean ; they are formed sometimes 
of ice and snow, and serve as specula in the display 
of those prismatic colors which illumine them as they 
wreathe themselves into innumerable grotesque pic- 
tures of mountains, animals, cities, and every form of 
imagery of which the mind is capable of conceiving. 
Ranged in the direction of the wind, in parallel grad- 
uating series one above another, they sometimes over- 
spread the whole azure background from horizon to 
zenith, and draw themselves out in long strips far 
away toward the dim, leaden east, each rank increas- 
ing in brilliance toward the west. They heap them- 
selves in huge billowy of roseate vapor, or in mountains 
of sombre gray fringed with coppery crimson, and 
then go chasing one another with endless evolutions 
and transformations along their blazoned course. 
Breaking into detached masses, they assume various 
forms, a grand old temple, with arches and columns, 
from whose holy of holies flames the fiery orb as from 
the veiled shekinah, bathing the ocean in a halo of 
glory; a castle crowning a rocky cliff*, with turrets 
and battlements, with moat and walls and pennon- 
bearing tower; a magic city, with gardens, and pal- 
aces, and glittering domes and minarets ; forms of 
cool, inviting groves, majestic forests, meadows, and 
grassy knolls ; home scenes, the house, the barn, the 
table spread for tea, with the well-known forms of 
loved ones gathered round it; the fancy-pictured gold 
land, whither tends every thought, and of which all 



have so often dreamed and romanced, the miner with 
upHfted pick, the camp, the burdened mule laboring 
up the steep ascent; forms of cascades of tumbling 
waters, illusive lakes reflecting on their limpid surface 
the inverted trees and mountains ; of alligators, leagues 
long, with head and feet and outstretched tail; of 
elephants, hydras, sea-serpents, sphinxes, forms of 
anything and everything the heart can feel or the 
imagination pencil. 

Like a gem embankment, meanwhile, the sky-wall 
glows in crimson beneath a brilliant arch of orange, 
and the frothy clouds toss themselves, and revel in 
their aerial sea of colors. Golden threads are spun 
and woven into a metallic web overlaying the deep 
vermilion sky, which beams through the interspaces, 
while from behind an opaque cloud broad diverging 
streams of transparent light are thrown over the scene 
like the radii of an enormous fan ; then as the black 
obstruction melts to silver burnished by a flood of un- 
obstructed white, suddenly the fan leaves turn to 
auroral streaks, and from some seemingly Protean 
pyrotechnic works under the sea's bank rainbows radi- 
ate outward and upward. On either side of the cen- 
tral display, beginning at the water's edge, deep 
crimson, through imperceptible transitions and grada- 
tions, turns to carmine, then to purple, and violet, and 
indigo, and finally into brown, while above and over 
all, northward and southward, over sea and clouds and 
sky, hangs a gauzy veil, in many several blending 
shades of softest tinted lilac. 

At last, resting for a moment on the ocean's brink, 
with a plunge the sun goes down; and as the long, 
golden streamers reluctantly follow, and while the 
western sky yet glows as from hidden furnace fires, 
from the gray east, silently and unobserved, the moon 
creeps up, coquetting with the clouds, and seemingly 
bashful of her more tender light, and fearful of ob- 
truding her soft, silvery presence upon the more bril- 
liant efforts of her consort, throws a smile of quiet 


dignity upon the dancing waters, whose undulations 
transform her wake from a steady stream of molten 
metal to broken bars, as of a shining ladder leading 
heavenward. Therewith she pursues her modest way. 

The rising sun — paling the glories of the southern 
cross, and as enchanting as the sunset but for the ab- 
sence of evening vapors — few lovers see. Those to 
whom the sweet joys of courtship are denied, the 
married, and the hopelessly incorrigable, seek other 
pastimes. Amateur theatricals and sham trials are 
instituted, in which no small amount of talent and wit 
are often displayed; stories are told; politics, science, 
and religion discussed, and home, and California, and 
gold-getting talked about Some western adventurer 
holds breathless a crowd of listeners while he spins a 
yarn of thrilling deeds among the savages, and of hair- 
breadth escapes; then another undertakes to cap the 
story by improvising a more startling one, and so the 
fun goes on. The 4th of Jul5^, Washington's birth- 
day, and Christmas were usually observed; on Saint 
Valentine's day a post-office would be opened, where a 
Ust of names was posted, and missives dealt to merry 
recipients. Some endeavored to sketch the coast as 
they sailed by it, others to cut its outline from paper. 

Suddenly the steam-whistle, with a long shrill 
blast, sounds the alarm of fire, and the terrible cry is 
taken up and thrown from one to another until it 
reaches the uttermost parts of the ship. Pale faces 
flit^ to and fro, and tremblhig knees stagger no 
whither. For a moment all is hubbub and confusion; 
but soon every man is at his post; the hose is un- 
coiled, the water is turned on, the decks are flooded, 
the life-boats are made ready and the life-preservers 
dragged out. Some stand by, ready to lower the 
boats, and others with pistols and cutlasses place 
themselves on guard prepared to strike down any who 
should attempt to jump into them without leave; 
others with uphfted axes seek the thrice dreaded foe 


to cut away the planks on which it feeds. Some 
pump, some look after the women and children, some 
secure their treasures, some unhinge their state-room 
door preparatory to a plunge, and finally the heroic 
imperiled — laugh and disperse. It was the custom 
for one of the officers to organize certain of the pas- 
sengers into a fire brigade, allotting each his respec- 
tive station and duty ; when the roles had been given, 
and the line of action once or twice explained, every 
few days thereafter the fire alarm was struck, and 
each sprung to his post. The benefit of this exercise 
was three-fold : first it promoted safety by adding to 
the corps of workers, secondly it tended to allay fear 
should there be a real alarm, and thirdly it afforded 

Evening bestows by far the most delightful hours 
of the tropical twenty-four. Then the awning is 
rolled up, the suffocating breath of day hies westward 
after the sun, and the fresh cooling air, welcome as 
water to the parched' tongue, falls on the face like a 
benediction. The firmament is dense with stars, 
gathering lustre with the growing night, and lining 
the great concave from horizon to horizon like a 
canopy of transient azure thick-studded with blazing 
gems. The ship's wake, which during the day is 
changingly tri-colored — upon a ground-work of deep 
blue, mottled cloud of bright green, frosted with 
pearly frothy and burnished and spangled by the sun's 
rays — is now luminous with phosphorescent fire. This 
is the romance of sea- voyaging, the poetry of travel. 

Occasionally the engine is stopped to repair a valve, 
to renew the wadding of the piston, or to put in a 
new beam — by which delay we may imagine what it 
is to be becalmed at sea, to lay lolHng like a spirit 
newly disembodied, poised in space before setting out 
on its career, dead and conscious of it. But such de- 
tentions are usually short, and soon we were on our 
way again. Church service was usually held on Sun- 
days; if a clergyman was on board he would some- 


times preach, if not, the purser would read the Epis- 
copal service. Every few days, after the waiter had 
put the rooms in order, the captain and steward 
made a tour of inspection, looking into each room as 
they passed by, while the waiter followed in the rear. 
The kitchen of a Rotterdam housewife is not more 
brightly polished than the cook's galley on inspection 
days. Lighted up at night, to one viewing it from a 
distance, the steamer looked like a fairy floating 

Some few were suffering from Panamd fever, and 
one poor fellow, a young man in the second cabin, 
died. It is a sad sight, a burial at sea ; sad m its mo- 
nitions, and sad in its suggestive retrospections; sad 
in its summoned thoughts of hopes cut off*, of riven 
hearts and wailing homes. The body was sewed up 
in a canvas shroud, and a shot and some pigiron at- 
tached to the feet ; it was then placed upon a plank, 
one end of which was extended over the ship's side ; 
the steamer was stopped for a moment, a prayer was 
read, the signal given, and the body slid off* into its 
liquid grave. 

Skirting the low, abruptly changing shores of Guat- 
emala, its huge volcanic mountains are seen in dim 
outline rising from the plain of foliage to a height of 
thirteen and fourteen thousand feet, with their grace- 
ful cones seemingly smoking within a veil of mist. 
Here we met the steamer with eastward bound pas- 
sengers. The ship's officers were looking for her. 
At first nothing was seen but a column of black smoke 
rising from below the horizon, then the smoke-pipe, 
and beneath it an ink-spot not larger than a pea-pod, 
which stood for the hull. This black spot gradually 
enlarged and assumed shape, until it loomed high upon 
the water, a bellowing monster flaunting its finery not 
a hundred yards from us, with its decks crowded with 
men and women waving hats and handkerchiefs. 
Guns were fired, and a boat lowered to make the ex- 
changes. There is much that is grand and impressive 



in such a meeting ; nowhere does an ocean steamer 
seem to sit so proudly, or lord it so loftily as when 
seen from another steamer at sea. You wonder if 
your ship is as large and as powerful as that. 

Crossing the gulf of Tehuantepec we enter upon the 
hottest part of our journey. Those of us who had 
dreamed of tropical glories, and the sensuousness and 
dolce far niente of a shadeless meridian sun had, ere 
this, had our fill, and we could take no further pleas- 
ure in them. The apathy of overpowering languor, 
the curse satiety, fell upon us; the Mexican coast, 
along which we now sailed, panted beneath the heat; 
its air was like the breath of a great beast, threatemng 

Came in sight the open green sierras of Mexico, 
then the harbor of Acapulco where the steamer victu- 
alled. Ninety miles from shore, abo\'e Punta Sacri- 
ficios, the Mexican table-land is seen across the tierra 
caliente as if near at hand. The grandeur of the 
mountains which rise to a height of eight or ten thou- 
sand feet, calls from voyagers many an exclamation of 
surprise and admiration. The white sandy beach 
seems eternal to those watching for the entrance to 
Acapulco harbor — a useless watch, for when the ship 
heads directly for the land, you see nothing but a 
bold, continuous coast line. Even after passing the 
island of Roquetta on the left, and a bluff headland on 
the right, you wonder where the anchorage is. A 
little farther, however, and you see some shipping, 
and beyond it the fort, and then the town, awakened 
to traffic by the reverberations of the ship's gun, which 
sends its peals echoing among the lofty hills as the 
vessel is made fast to the buoy. Now glance around 
and you will see neither place of exit nor ocean, but 
what might easily be taken for a highland lake. Deep, 
round, almost smothered in foliage, and nestling at 
the feet of high mountains, the effect is most pictur- 
esque. On the left of the island as you go in, there 

Cal. Int. Poc. 14 


is another entrance, which, though deep enough, is too 
narrow for safety. 

This port, the best on the western coast of Mexico, 
and the lialf-way station between Pananid and San 
Francisco, can safely harbor five hundred ships. It 
is part of an immense basin cut in granite rocks — a 
coarse-grained granite Hke that of Fichtelberg and 
Carlsbad, toothed and rent like the Catalonian Mount- 
serrat. Its shores are so steep that vessels can lie 
almost under the chaparral that overhangs its banks. 
Surrounded by mountains rising on every side from 
six hundred to three thousand feet, the listless ocean 
air seems inadequate to drive out the pent-up exhala- 
tions from an undrained swamp filled with decaying 
vegetable matter ; and the town, which has the name 
of being the hottest place on the route, is considered 
quite unhealthy. For weeks the thermometer stands 
at 120° in the shade at mid-day. In early days a gap 
was cut in the hills to admit a current of air ; it was 
also used as a roadway, and the great gash is pointed 
to travellers as a specimen of Spanish energy and 
capability in the olden time. On a strip of soft white 
sand encircling the bay grow cocoa-palms, their long 
green arms and smooth stems bending with fruit ; and 
the amata, or tree of love, offers its umbrella form and 
magnetic influence to all who choose to avail themselves 
of its ravishing shade. 

Time was when this port was more famous through- 
out the world than that of New York, or any other 
along the border of the firm land of America, if we 
except Vera Cruz and Panama. Under Spanish ruL., 
it lay in the line of travel from the Philippine islands 
across Mexico to Vera Cruz, over which route annual 
caravans of loaded mules carried the wares of China, 
Japan, and the Spice islands, thence shipped to Spain. 
Enjoying a monopoly of the Manila trade, it was fre- 
quented by galleons which annually dispensed their 
rich cargoes to merchants who flocked down from the 
capital to make their purchases, and who at the same 



time held a fair for the disposal of the products of the 
country. The distance to Mexico is about one hun- 
dred leagues, travelled only by pack-mules and saddle 
animals. The road is bad, but is less frequented by 
bandits than that from Mazatlan to Mexico. There 
is no wagon road leading from the town in any direc- 
tion, the same winding paths and the same means of 
conveyance over them being employed now that ob- 
tained in the days of Cortes. 

The city that once boasted a busy population of fif- 
teen thousand is now reduced to a lifeless, inert town 
of three thousand. The population is heterogeneous, 
but tlie business is mostly in the hands of Americans 
and Europeans. Round a large plaza, where groups 
of animated traders, cock-fighters, and gamblers are 
often seen, and on the narrow, irregular streets lead- 
ing from it are situated low but substantial houses of 
tiled adobe, stone, and wood, roofed with palm -leaves, 
and before which run verandas for protection from sun 
and rain. The shops, cafes, and most of the dwellings 
are dazzlingly white-washed, and the interior neat and 
orderly. The tumbling walls of tenements long un- 
occupied, give the appearance of general decadence to 
the place. The castle of San Diego, standing on an 
eminence east of the town, is the chief defence, though 
I have seen guns planted on the island at the entrance 
of the harbor. A plain church stands on the plaza, 
the interior of which is decorated on fete days with 
palm-leaves and flowers. Pendent from the ceiling- 
was a miniature ship to assist the devotions of sailors. 

It was half past eight o'clock on the evening of 
March 19th when the Panama fired her gun in Aca- 
pulco bay, and there we remained until noon next day. 
Scarcely does the steamer come to anchor before it is 
surrounded by canoes laden with fruit, which come 
swarming from various parts of the shore, and naked 
swimmers ready to begin their aquatic gynmastics 
for a consideration. The boats contain oranges, times, 
bananas, pine-apples, cocoa-nuts, bread, cakes, and 


shell-work, and are often paddled by a woman with a 
cigar in her mouth, while a man or boy attends the 
floating shop. Traffic is conducted in this wise: 
Ranging themselves along both sides of the steamer 
the dark-visaged venders lift up their eyes and voices 
to those above inviting trade. Armed with a basket 
or mat bag, to which is attached one end of a long 
line, they throw the other end up over the guard. 
Whoever wishes to make a purchase takes the line, 
draws up the basket, and puts into it a piece of money. 
Then lowering it to the boat and intimating what is 
wanted, the seller takes the money and puts in the 
basket its equivalent in wares which are then drawn up 
on board by the purchaser. Tired of this you may 
amuse yourself by throwing dimes or quarters over- 
board, and watching the naked tawny-skinned urchins ; 
who float about the ship as in their natural element, 
dive and scramble down into the transparent water 
ten or twenty feet, and come up porpoise-like, puffing 
and blowing the water out of their heads, with the 
glittering coin between thumb and finger. Seldom or 
never do they fail catching it before it sinks very far, 
and holding it up to view for a moment they throw it 
into their mouths and watch for more. These boys 
will thus remain in the water for hours without any 
support save that which a slow fin-like motion of 
arms and legs gives them, and despite the sharks to 
which one of them is now and then sacrificed. To 
him who has made the voyage, the bare mention of 
these little incidents will call up a thousand associa- 
tions which will enable him in some degree to live 
again the time that formed so important an epoch in 
the life of every Californian. 

While the steamer is taking in coals, cattle, fowls 
fruit, and water, which occupies several hours, you 
may if you like go ashore in a boat and visit the 
town, less than a mile distant, in a recess of the bay. 
Near the landing, and on the shady side of the plaza, 
you will find spread out on tables and on the ground 



fruit and fancy shell-work which you are solicited to 
purchase by girls and women As you walk along, 
a charming pensive-eyed senorita throws over your 
head a necklace, at the same time saying, it is a pres- 
ent, but should you let it remain you will not have 
gone far before the coffee-colored beauty turns up and 
desires a present in return. A fine dinner used to 
be served by a female French restaurateur, a noted 
cook and virago. At night, in the absence of the 
moon, the town is lighted by lanterns hung out at the 
doors. Contentment and happiness reign ; the women, 
some of them quite beautiful, gather fruit, and make 
and sell shell-work ; men lounge in shady nooks, 
smoke, and sip aguardiente, and naked children suck 
oranges, munch bananas, and roll in the dirt. The 
fort, once effective as a means of defence, is solid and 
substantial still, though it would afford little protec- 
tion against a modern monitor. It is usually garri- 
soned by one or two companies of ragged barefooted 
soldiers with heterogenous uniforms and almost worth- 
less arms. In a clear mountain stream back of the 
town there is delightful bathing, but the senoritas 
that stand on the bank, towel in hand, awaiting you, 
make it an awkard position for a modest man to be 
placed in. Occasionally a severe earthquake assists 
time in demolishincr building^s. 

Fifty miles below Acapulco, on the night of the 
27th of February, the steamer North America, Captain 
Blethen, was stranded on the beach. The passengers 
were all saved, and most of them had reached Aca- 
pulco previous to our arrival. Seven hundred dollars 
had been contributed for their relief by the passengers 
of the Tennessee, which entered the port of Acapulco 
on the 4th of March, bound upward. The North 
America was the best steamer in the Nicaragua line, 
and next to the Golden Gate the fastest vessel on the 
Pacific. As a matter of course, the captain was 
greatly blamed for the accident, some charging him 
with culpable negligence, others with ignorance of the 


coast, and others with intentionally running his ship 
ashore. All the upward bound steamers were crowded, 
and were unable to take on board the shipwrecked 
passengers. C. J. Dempster, J. B. Crockett, J. Mc- 
Dougal and wife, and thirty-four others, men, women, 
and children, succeeded in securing passage by the 
Panama; the rest were obliged to wait until a vessel 
could be sent them. There were in all about eight 
hundred, passengers and crew. Four hundred had 
taken passage in sailing vessels and steamers for San' 
Francisco; the others were in a destitute condition, 
and subsisted on contributions. There was much suf- 
fering among the women and children durino: their 
march through an inhospitable country, and while at 
Acapulco there was much sickness a^nd several deaths. 
After some delay, the clipper ship Northern Ligld was 
sent by Mr Vandewater, agent for the company at 
San Francisco, to their relief. Stockton made a 
movement in their aid, and Mayor Harris of San 
Francisco called a meetinof on the 29th of March — 
rather late, one would think, but better than never — 
to devise measures to render them assistance. Many 
were inclined to censure the company for their dila- 
toriness in despatching them conveyance to San Fran- 
cisco. One hundred and twenty thousand dollars, it 
was stated, had been paid by the North Americas pas- 
sengers; through no fault of theirs, they had been 
thrown on a foreign and unhealthy shore, and now 
the company were loth to spend a few thousand dol- 
lars to save their lives. 

Next day we were at sea again, carrying with us, 
as it would seem, half the inhabitants of the ocean. 
Myriads of flying-fish skim over the smooth sea, flash- 
ing their silver tinted wmgs as they skip from wave 
to wave, or break cover and fly away. Sharks dart 
by, leaving, if it be night, a phosphorescent wake, 
broken and luminous like fiery serpents; porpoises 
and dolphins leap and gallop along, and play about 
the ship, followmg in its wake, or trying the metal 


of their heads against that of the cutwater. Here a 
large turtle is seen floating in the water, yonder a 
huge, snorting blackfish goes plunging by, and over 
beyond a whale up-blowing his waterspout. Sea-birds 
circling and swooping hither and thither watch the 
ship's wake for their breakfast. 

There are three Mexican ports between Acapulco 
and the gulf of California at which the Panama 
steamers sometimes touch, Manzanillo, some four 
hundred miles north of Acapulco, San Bias, about a 
hundred and fifty miles above Manzanillo, and Mazat- 
lan, opposite Cape St Lucas, a hundred miles or so 
above San Bias. Manzanillo is a liamlet of perhaps 
three hundred severally tinted inhabitants, the sea- 
port of Colinia, a fine city about seventy-five 
miles inland. On a clear day is seen the volca- 
no of Colima, the monarch spit-fire of the coast, 
whose crest, thirteen thousand feet in height, is 
nearly always covered with snow. Leaving Las 
Tres Marias island on the left, we approach the 
lofty mountains bounding the roadstead of San 
Bias. The ship anchors some distance from the 
town, which consists of three or four hundred adobe 
and rudely thatched palmetto-roofed houses, situated 
along narrow irregular sandy streets, and a dilapi- 
dated fort standing^ on a hio^h rock behind it. The 
picturesque port of Mazatlan is protected from the 
otherwise unbroken swells of the ocean by a chain of 
rocks, or surf-scarred islands, against and between 
which the sea dashes into foam. The anchorage 
within is safe, except from southeast gales. On ap- 
proaching the harbor, the entrance, scarred and hewn 
in the dark red cliffs, opens to view, and across the 
green transparent water shines the city like a white 
picture, with a dim background of mountain blue. 
Mazatlan is the most important Mexican sea-port on 
the Pacific, and displays unmistakable evidence of 
commercial activity and thrift. The population is 
12,000 or 15,000, the climate healthy, the houses sub- 


stantial, and coated with dazzling white or straw color, 
and the streets clean. 

Crossing the gulf and continuing our course, on the 
27th we meet the steamer New Orleaiis bound south. 
Past the surge-smoothed granite columns, cavern ed 
rocks, and high white beach of Cape St Lucas, and 
out of the intertropical regions, and the temperature 
changes ; particularly in summer, when the traveller 
leaves the warm southerly winds of the Central 
American and Mexican coasts for the cool bracing 
northwesters and chilly fogs of California. And 
with the climate scenery changes, and desolation now 
marks the border of our way, hitherto robed in re- 
dundant vegetation. The forest-clad Cordilleras of 
Mexico disappear and the treeless hills of the penin- 
sula come in view. Approaching the colder regions, 
the albatross turns back and we are met by myriads 
of Mother Carey's chickens, and graceful gulls which 
follow the ship for hundreds of miles. The southern 
cross dips lower and lower until it finally disappears, 
and the north star rises each night higher above the 
horizon. Drooping spirits revive. White linens and 
blue flannels are packed away, and winter woolens 
and thick clothing substituted- 

The coast of Lower California as seen from the 
steamer, presents a series of openings and headlands, 
with now and then volcanic mountains, and unbroken 
plains of vast extent, reaching far into the interior, 
all basking beneath a fervent sky. In places are 
rocky steeps over which are scattered a few cacti and 
some distorted shrubs, with more robust vegetation 
back of all, and now and then a fertile-looking valley 
running inland. The islands of Santa Margarita and 
Cerros lying near the mainland present rather an un- 
inviting appearance. The country, however, is more 
attractive on nearer acquamtance. 

^ And now our eager eyes catch the half-transparent 
hills of Alta California, but before we fairly reach 


them we turn and enter and come to anchor in the 
bay of San Diego at 9 o'clock in the morning of the 
27th. Next to San Francisco bay this is the best 
harbor on the coast, and the cUmate is unsurpassed 
by any spot upon the globe. With an even tempera- 
ture throughout the year, and its soft seductive atmos- 
phere tinctured with animating ocean oxygen, it offers 
all the charms of south and north combined. On the 
northern shore of the bay near the entrance sits the 
old town, its tiled adobes sprinkled with more mod- 
ern wooden houses, behind which are some bluff 
heights, and on one of them, overlooking the town, 
was formerly planted the presidio, while the mission 
was placed some five miles distant up the river. The 
opposite shore of the bay is a low narrow sandy 
strip, forming a natural and effectual breakwater. 
Our purpose in stopping here was to obtain coals, but 
as none were to be had our captain was obliged to 
content himself with wood. 

About noon the steamer Fremont, with 230 passen- 
gers, likewise northward bound, entered San Diego 
bay. At half-past seven that evening the Panama 
weighed anchor and steamed out to sea, the Fremont 
following shortly after. A very heavy gale from the 
westward had been brewing for us, and that night 
we sailed into it. For the season, the locality, and 
with the steamer's lack of fuel, it was a terrific affair. 

I may safely say it was one of the severest storms 
I ever encountered. By it was clearly evidenced that 
though our ocean is called pacific, and usually wears 
a serene and smiling face, if thwarted, it can rage 
right royally. Most of the passengers had retired 
for the night, but as the wind rose into a gale a few 
of us dressed and went out. It was thoroughly what 
the sailors call a nasty night, — black as pitch, and the 
excited sea luminous with angry fire, like the accursed 
lake of apocalyptic vision Its torn surface was laid 
out in furrows, and clouds of foam were driven by 
the wind across the deck. Rearing and plunging like 


a prairie bison, the ship's bow pointed now upward 
toward the sky, now downward into the depths. 
Eesponsive to the shrieking blast the phospliorescent 
waves reared their crests on high, clashed one against 
another, and breaking into foam shot brilliant streams 
of spray into the black air, like flashes of light from 
a luminous snowdrift. Fearing to be driven to de- 
struction before the wind, the steamer's bow was 
pointed athwart the waves, and there in the teeth of 
the storm the utmost eflbrts were made to prevent 
her being caught and overturned in the trough of the 

Returning to my berth, and bracing myself and 
holding on, I lay listening to the creaking timbers 
and straining joints, to the thud and rattle of the 
waters against the ship's planks, to the crashing of 
glass and crockery, and the clatter and bang of loose 
furniture and baggage, sent hither and thither by 
every lurch of the struggling ship, to the shouts of 
sailors, and the mingled moans and blasphemies of 
passengers ; watching through the slow hours for day, 
listening for some break in the beating machinery 
which should leave us at the mercy of the waves, 
wondering if ever I should see the firm and beauteous 
earth again. 

Dawn brought only increased fury to the storm. 
No tables could be set that day ; indeed, there was 
little thought of eating, for long before the tempest 
had spent itself the ship was despaired of, and such 
passengers as were out of bed were beaten about like 
footballs. All loose canvas was torn to shreds, and 
boats were splintered and sent flying from their fas- 
tenings Clothes went a drift without their owners, 
and half-dressed men and women staggered about in 
dismay and confusion. Heavy seas were shipped in 
rapid succession ; the wind and waves swept over the 
deck in a hurricane, and to add to our distress the 
ship, though comparatively new, had parted her 
seams, and was leaking badly, so that all the pumps 


could scarcely keep the water out. The vessel rolled 
until the deck could be seen by the monsters at the 
bottom of watery gulches, and as she went down on 
her beam ends, seamen clung to the rigging for their 

Out upon the brine was one of the grandest 
sights I ever beheld. Gradually and steadily the 
wind had increased until the uplifted sea, in wrath 
long nursed for worthy occasions, shook itself in its 
mighty unrest ; then rushing upon us with a howl, 
the storm culminated in a frenzy of fury. Looking 
away toward tlie west under the sullen sky and swiftly 
flying clouds, looking quickly while the ship momen- 
tarily balanced herself on some foaming crest high in 
air, looking far away, as far as the eye could reach, to 
where the low scowling heavens and ocean met, 
where air and water whipped themselves together and 
sea and sky were one, and I saw as from some high 
sierra a succession of rolling ridges, glassy gulches, 
and splashing cliffs. Hitherward they came, born, 
perhaps, hundreds of miles away, with thousands 
rushing after them, roaring loud-mouthed and wrath- 
ful as if to overwhelm us. The little ship on which 
I stood was no more to them than a buzzing fly 
to a whirlwind. Tlien we plunged headlong down 
into the deep smooth-bottomed canon, and looking 
upward, beheld on either side a writhing molten 
mountain, with trembling dome and glistening pin- 
nacle, with serried summit cream-crested and fes- 
tooned, and almost perpendicular black-green walls 
streaked with stringy foam, while the yet more impa- 
tient avalanche leaped the abyss, or fell with a crash 
upon the laboring ship below. Once more uplifted, I 
looked again upon the battle of the wind and waves 
— tall waves, beautiful in their ever varying colors, 
now rising into mountains, now melting into plains, 
then turning, surge meeting surge in foaming coun- 
terdance; and now comes the wind, chasing the whist- 
ling brine swifter than Diana's dart, and seizing the 


chafing main beats down its wild roaring breakers, 
holds the crushed waves in fierce embrace while yet 
other howling gusts sweep over them, then relaxing, 
stirs up the levelled surface, smites the struggling 
streams into dust, and breaks the liberated waves into 
fragments swirled off in surge-flakes into the leaden 

As I have before remarked, the petty annoyances 
of travel try temper and discover the varying play of 
light and shade in character. Now a storm at sea 
tries men's souls, and discovers to each the measure 
of his manhood, of his faith, of his courage and cal- 
lousness; discovers to him the realities of his religion, 
if he has any, the poverty of his hopes if he has none. 
And like all phenomena throughout the realm of na- 
ture, there are no two human characters alike, and no 
two manifestations exactly similar under the influence 
of fear. In this instance, throughout the night, and 
during the greater part of the day, some slept and 
snored on, others lay awake in their berths, mute, 
and apparently indifferent, others, greatly frightened, 
clutched their beds and groaned. Some, throwing 
themselves upon their knees, poured forth petitions 
to unseen powers, now in dismal howls and now in 
intelligible prayer ; others were so smitten with cow- 
ard fear, so hopeless and helpless, as scarcely to know 
what they did, and mingling incoherent oaths and ex- 
clamations with their pitiful cries, they looked at each 
other and shuddered, clasped hands convulsively, gazed 
beseechingly upon the merciless ocean, and let fly their 
thoughts back to the home they had left and forward 
to the California their hopes had aspired to, and which 
now seemed a million of leagues away. 

Not only did the storm severely tax the strength 
of the ship, but it made such inroads upon the scanty 
fuel that there was great danger of our being left 
exposed powerless to the fury of the waves. Our 
captain therefore about noon this day, which was the 
28th of March^ came to anchor under the lea of 


a low island, and after there waiting the subsi- 
dence of the wind for over six hours was obliged to 
steam up again as the vessel dragged her anchor 

And as the day wearily wasted itself and another 
night came on with some abatement of the storm, 
the lowering sky still rested on the unquiet ocean. 
Once more nothing can be seen ; you hear the rioting 
winds, the din and roar of raging waters; you feel 
the darkness and the trembling of the frightened 
ship as lashed by breakers and struck by solid surges 
it rises and falls to the rolling of the waves ; and 
every sinking is as the sinking into the grave, every 
booming wave that strikes upon the deck is like fall- 
ing clods upon the coffin. 

Next morning our Pacific was all over her passion, 
though her bosom yet heaved somewhat, and the sun 
came out and smiled upon the sea and changed the 
black hills off our larboard bow into hazy purple. 
From the ocean the Coast Range looks like a com- 
pact rugged barren seawall, forest -tufted at the top 
and seamed and furrowed with innumerable ravines. 
Yet though seemingly so near, between these moun- 
tains and the sea is a belt of fertile land, from one to 
twenty miles in width, which is the garden spot, the 
Italy, it is sometimes called, of California. It was 
along this enchanting shore, between the bays of San 
Diego and San Francisco, that the Franciscan fathers 
planted their line of missions, which achievement and 
their subsequent doings, may be classed among the 
wonders of the world. At this time were seen herds 
of cattle and horses running over hills brown and dry 
in summer but now enrobed in emerald, and here and 
there the bell-towers of a mission church appeared 
rising from the shelf of a ravine. 

With Santa Bdrbara islands and Point Concepcion 
behind us, at half-past five in the afternoon of the 
30th we met the steamer Ohio bound down. Again 
we are obliged to seek fuel, this time at Monterey, 


the sometime famous capital of California, which 
point we reached at nine o'clock that night. A 
shelving point, Pinos by name, green with waving 
pines and terminating in black rocks, marks the ap- 
proach to Monterey bight, an indentation of the 
coast, scarcely to be called a harbor, yet generally 
safe for shipping. Rising behind a town of five hun- 
dred inhabitants, of spacious well-built tiled adobes, 
intermixed with dwellings of wood, with government 
buildings, and a fort on an eminence nuar the water, 
is an amphitheatre of wooded hills glowing like an 
illuminated panorama in the warm hazy air — the 
whole forming as lovely and picturesque a scene as 
the sun shines on. 

Thioughout the next day all hands were busy 
chopping and taking in wood. Setting sail at half 
past nine we prepared with some nervous gaiete de 
ccEur for the last night, that most joyous of all nights 
on shipboard. By daylight next morning, which was 
the 1st of April, 1852, the bold rugged cliffs of points 
Lobos and Bonito are in full view, the lonely Faral- 
lones stand sentinel on our left, while northward 
in the direction of Point Reyes stretch the high 
rocky galleries of the coast which bound the sea to 
its very edge. 

Slow ? The sluggish boat seems scarcely to move ! 
The lazy wheels slap the water in aggravating dor- 
mancy, and between each step of the walking-beam 
you may count a month. By far the longest hour 
upon the route is that when, with adjusted rigging 
and slushed masts and feed waiter and luggage ready, 
we watch with feverish impatience the slowly lessen- 
ing distance between us and the headlands. It was 
in order, the day before this last, for the captain's 
favorites to prepare a fulsome testimonial for gentle- 
manly conduct and able seamanship, to be published 
in the daily journals on landing ; while those who 
fancied themselves to have been ill used might change 
their muttering curses into bold charges, and talk 


loudly of bringing a suit at law for damages sustained 
by skin and liver during the voyage. 

At last, with all on deck in a flutter of excitement, 
the ship's stern turns squarely on China, the bow 
seeks admission to the split shore, and rolling over 
the chopping bar between the high bluff-bound por- 
tals of the Golden Gate we enter San Francisco bay, 
ghde along in its smooth waters past Angel island and 
Alcatraz, when — ^bang! goes the gun; the startled 
ladies scream, then simper, and as tlie smoke rolls up 
and the report reverberates round North point, over 
the gashed hills and through the streets which appear 
to rise almost perpendicularly from the water's edge, 
through scattering brown houses and yellow sand, 
now quiescent under a pale blue-gray misty veil of 
torn gauze, cheers from the crowd upon the shore 
come to us over the water, and handkerchiefs wave, 
and boats come alongside — then we move slowly 
forward to the wharf, and our journey is done. 

Out of the piercing chilly air into the soft warm 
haze of a glowing San Francisco morning, off from 
the never quiet decks with their nauseating smells, 
away from the tables with their tasteless food, from, 
cock reached cabhis, and the din and clatter of gong 
and dishes, on to the firm ground again, and into a 
bath and clean linen, and invited by an appetizing 
breakfast; away from the horrible faces by which we 
have so long been haunted, from foul-mouthed swearers, 
and coarse jesters, and selfish, craven, well-nigh soul- 
less men and women, from surly officers, and crying 
babies, and whining mothers, and cross fathers; out 
and off, and away from them all forever ! 

But what a scattering^ of them there will be on the 
morrow; to the north and to the south, each to his 
cart-driving, or banking, or digging, or begging a sit- 
uation; what variety of schemes and occupations in 
those so lately close-united in common hopes and peril 
during their thirty-days' voyage ! Well, let them 
scatter, The bond of quasi-equality accidentally 


made is forever broken; now money, not steam and 
iron and plank, is God. 

Ashore ! Never have I experienced greater phys- 
ical pleasure than in the first hour ashore from a long 
and tedious voyage. Every pore of my senses drinks 
satisfaction ; head and heart and heels unite in speak- 
ing their content ; it is like an escape from prison or a 
release from purgatory. So am I in California, the 
lovely, the golden-dreamed, the wonderful I Looking 
over the water toward the east, I see through the 
subtle violet haze, the land before me like a land of 
promise; mountain, vale, and bay glimmering in a 
flood of saffron sunlight, zoned and studded with bright 
emerald hills — gold and green, significant of the royal 
metal in its veinS; and the elements of the rich har- 
vest hidden in its breast. 



Inveteracet hoc quoque ; et quod hodie exemplis tuemar, inter exempla 

— Tacitus. 

So they called the country El Dorado, The Gilded; 
some of them so called it not knowing why ; the name 
even fastening itself upon a political division of the 

Some of them knew that since the coming of the 
Spaniards, when Vasco Nunez hunted for the golden 
temple of Dabaiba, and Juan Ponce de Leon searched 
for a fountain of perpetual youth, and Cortes freighted 
treasure ships from Mexico, and Pizarro from Peru, 
down to the silvery days of stock gambling, and the 
cold dull tyranny of railroad management, there has 
ever been in the minds of the greedy, somewhere a 
region ruled by El Dorado, or rather a place called 
El Dorado, or The Gilded. It was not necessary the 
gilt should be gold, or even that there should be gild- 
ing at all ; indeed, the thing was rather of the Jack-a 
lantern order, or like the crock of gold at the end of 
the rainbow, when ready to put your hand upon it, it 
was not there. 

The true, or original El Dorado — that is, true so^ 
far as any aborginal or other mythology can be woven 
into sober story — was in South America, where, as 
some say, the micaceous quartz in the Essequibo val- 
ley, in Guiana, gilded the land. Or it may have been 
because the high priest of Bogotd sprinkled his person. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 15 ( 225 > 


with gold dust, thus originating the idea of a gilded 
humanity, that people came to think of the country 
as gilded. 

The high priest. El Dorado, the lord of this magnif- 
icence — for chief and country generally bore the same 
name — was every day annointed with perfumed gum 
and bathed in gold-dust, so that his whole body glit- 
tered like the sun. His moving was as the moving of 
a golden statue, and his breathing was as of subli- 
mated diamonds. Incredible it would ever seem, 
were not the truth verified by many witnesses, how 
long, and earnestly, and honestly men pretending to 
sanity sought this myth. Beginning with Sebastian 
de Belalcazar in 1535, and Gonzalo Pizarro in 1539, 
the valley of Dorado was the object of search by 
various expeditions fitted out from Peru, Quito, Bra- 
zil, New Grenada, and the Rio de la Plata, the in- 
fatuation continuing down to as late a period, in one 
instance at least, as 1775. 

Coming to more definite statements, we know that 
a Spaniard named Martinez reported that having been 
adrift at sea he was thrown on the coast of Guiana, 
and taken to Manoa, the capital of the king of that 
region, who was an ally of the incas of Peru, that the 
roof and walls of the city, wherein he had resided 
seven months, were covered with the precious metals. 
Orellana, a lieutenant of Pizarro, who visited the val- 
ley of the Amazonas, 1540-1, spoke of a region where 
gold and silver abounded to a fabulous extent. He 
reported to have been in Manoa, and to have seen the 
immense treasures. Van Hutten, who commanded 
an expedition from Coro, on the coast of Venezuela, 
1541-5, thought that he had caught a glimpse of the 
golden city, in search of which he had started. 
Several expeditions undertaken to reach the mythical 
region failed, notably one in 1560 under Gonzalo 
Ximenez de Quesada from Bogota. The fable has 
occupied men's minds, among others leading to results 
that of Sir Walter Raleigh, who undertook to find 


the country in his expeditions to Guiana in 1595 
and 1617. On all maps were to be seen traces of the 
pseudo discoveries of Martinez and others. There was 
one map, made much of by Raleigh, showing the 
capital of the golden kingdom, along the streets of 
which were no less than 3000 workers in precious 
metals, the sidewalks being flagged with the yellow 
kind, and the wagon way cobbled with the white 
kind ; for at hand were situate a hill of gold, a hill of 
silver, and a hill of salt. I cannot speak of the royal 
palace of snow-white marble with pillars of porphyry 
and alabaster, all encircled by galleries of curiously 
wrought cedar and ebony, for description here is be- 
yond the power of tongue or pen. 

The Diccionario Historico, a Spanish translation of 
Moreri's French cyclopedia with valuable additions by 
Miravel, published in 1753, speaks of the province of 
El Dorado, as situated between the rivers Orinoco 
and Amazonas, containing the great lake Parimo, and a 
great city on its western shore, with mines of gold in 
great quantities; but adds that ''todo lo dicho esta 
encantado," and that all search for the same had thus 
far proved to be only " buenos desseos de los espano- 
les." Humboldt proved that the lake was almost as 
fabulous as the city of Manoa. 

Now, if in California we had not then the gilded 
king, and were obliged to be content with only a 
gilded country, we have had since then more of gilded 
humanity than ever the Essequibo valley could boast. 
And the coat of gilt has been getting thicker and 
thicker on many of them, until there is an inch thick 
coating of metal of some kind, base or otherwise ; 
silver, gold, or brass, some being, indeed, all a casting, 
blood and bone, heart and brain, all cold dull earth, 
and nothing else. More than once we have thought 
to discover the veritable cave of Mammon, where 
dwelt the money-god himself. 

After all, with such examples before us as the tulip 
mania, the South Sea bubble, the Mississippi bubble, 


what may we not look for in the book of human 
follies ? 

The miseries of a miner might fill a chapter of woes. 
Digging and delving with eager anxiety day after day, 
up to the waist in water, exposed now to the rays of 
the burning sun, and now to cold, pitiless rains, with 
liberal potations of whiskey during the day, and mad 
carousals at night, flush with great buckskin bags of 
gold-dust, or toiling throughout the long summer 
without a dollar, indebted to the butcher, baker, and 
grocer, heart and brain throbbing and bounding with 
success, or prostrate under accumulated disappoint- 
ments, it was more than a man with even an iron 
frame could endure. When disease made him its 
prey, there was no gentle hand to minister to his 
wants, no soft voice to whisper words of love and com- 
fort, no woman's heart on which to rest his aching 
head. Lying on the hard earth, or rolling in feverish 
agony on the shelf-bed of his cabin, often alone and 
unattended throughout the livelong day, while the 
night was made hideous by the shouts and curses of 
rioters, the dying miner, with thoughts of home, of 
parents, wife, and sister, and curses on his folly, passed 
away. That was the last of him in this world, name- 
less, graveless, never heard from ! Meanwhile, and 
for years after, those he left at the old home despair- 
ingly dwell upon his fate. Such cases were sad 
enough, but there were others still more melancholy. 
The patient, devoted wife, waiting and watching for 
the husband's return, toiling early and late for the 
support of their children, ever faithful, ever having 
him in her thoughts, and so passing her life away, 
until hope became charred and black, while the object 
of all this love, of this devotion, was, maybe, spending 
his substance with harlots, writhing under the delirium 
of drunkenness, without at any time bestowing even 
a thought upon that devoted wife and those abandoned 


Not one, nor ten, but thousands, have thus lived and 
died. The disappointed miner would not write until 
he had something pleasing to communicate ; the suc- 
cessful one preferred to carry home his own good news 
to sending it in a letter, which he did or did not ; and 
thus many a poor heart at home ached on to the end. 
Some, and as a rule, the most pusillanimous, crept 
back, spectre-like, to their old homes, broken in body 
and spirit ; some few returned in health, successful, 
and joyous; but by far the greater number, heart- 
broken and remorseful, laid their bones along the dis- 
turbed water-courses, on the canon sides, in upturned 
gulches, or scattered them unburied over the wilder- 
ness of distant hills. 

Some of the mountain towns, after having been 
dried up in the summer, were literally frozen up in 
the winter, thus leaving but little time comparatively 
in which to dig and wash out the gold. A frozen-up 
mining town in these days would be a curiosity. Work 
and business are at a standstill. Every day is more 
like Sunday than any Sunday the prosperous mining 
town ever sees. All is idleness ; gaunt forms flit list- 
lessly about the streets, sometimes gathering in groups 
to swear at the times, and breaking out in spasmodic 
sports when grumbling itself becomes unbearable. 
Even vice stagnates. Men have not the wherewith 
to play for money or whiskey, and so shuffle and deal 
the cards for fun. Money disappears from circulation, 
and a dun is looked upon as a man partially insane. 
Medical men drive a fair traffic as long as the liquor 
lasts, mending in the morning the broken heads, and 
setting the dislocated joints of the night previous ; but 
when the fuel for that infernal fire is spent, then peace 
and good fellowship usually prev^ail. 

It was by no means all chance that led to success 
or failure in the mines. Industry and economy, here 
as elsewhere, were nine times in ten to be rewarded 
in a greater or less degree. Multitudes of croakers 
sitting on their haunches encircled the valley of Cali- 


fornia, like frogs about a frog-pond, — sat thus and 
croaked, cursing California, and looking at the gravel 
beds, and crying, ''There is no gold in them." That 
did not bring fortune. Steady persistent work, with 
reasonable economy, though it seldom rewarded one 
with a strike or a large return, was sure to result in 
something. Laziness and captious disquiet were the 
two evils. There were comparatively few miners at the 
end of their first two years in California w^ho had $1,000 
laid by, and yet a claim would have to pay but five 
dollars a day to give the miner of it $2,000 at the end 
of two years, allowing $1,000 during the meantime 
for food and clothes. But during the earlier years, 
wages were ten dollars a day or more, and the miner 
who could not get that, or twice as much, would stop 
work, and either do nothing or prospect for something 
nearer the large ideas brought hither. 

Often in making excavations for buildings the spade 
uncovered the bones of some unknown wanderer, 
thrust hurriedly beneath the cover of earth by the 
stranger next to him, thrust beneath a light covering 
of earth and straightway forgotten. 

Very early there appeared a mania for rushes, as 
they were called, that is, a hurrying hither and thither 
after the echoing cry of gold. Whole camps were 
thus stampeded; at times the wildest stories of new 
finds being enough to cause men to leave good diggings 
in the hope of finding better. Almost all of these 
excitements ended in disaster, like that of the Gold 
Lake affair, about which one thus writes : 

" One day, while in Sacramento city, I heard an old 
citizen relating his experience in the gold mines of this 
country. Among other incidents, was that most 
memorable of California humbugs, the Gold Lake ex- 
citement. I shall not attempt to follow the old miner 
through all his mountain wanderings, nor is it neces- 
sary to mention his hopes and fears, his sufterings and 
toils, and ultimate disappointments — but he made one 
hair-breadth escape which I shall mention. For many 


days, the party of which he was a member had wan- 
dered about through the snow-covered mountains, 
searching for they knew not what, and going they 
knew not where. The party had about fifteen mules, 
all heavily packed with provisions, and although the 
snow on the mountains was very deep, yet it was cov- 
ered with a firm crust, which rarely broke beneath 
the feet of the animals. One dsij, however, the crust 
did break — and such a break 1 In the twinkling of an 
eye, seven of the mules were engulfed and swept out 
of sight by a roaring mountain river, which had been 
completely arched over by the snow, and entirely un- 
observable until the crust was broken. Our hero was 
on the very brink of this frightful chasm, and had 
barely time to back out and save his bacon. The most 
singular part of the matter was, that no trace of the 
seven mules was ever found." 

All through the summer of 1850, the miners of 
Antoine canon, and along down the north-middle 
branch of the American river, were in a flutter of ex- 
citement regarding the Ohio diggings. They were of 
fabulous richness, and inexhaustible ; but where were 
they ? Party after party went out in search of them, 
and returned unsuccessful. As often as one failed, 
another was ready to adventure ; earnings which 
were of worth only as they might bring increase. 
Thus time and opportunity slipped from the fingers of 
hundreds who might thence date their downfall. The 
cause of this excitement was the arrival at Antoine 
canon of five men who said they were from Ohio, and 
who brought into camp a heavy load of gold dust. 
When questioned as to the place whence they had ob- 
tained it, they became mysterious, put their fingers to 
their noses, and smiled sardonically. Presently the 
men went their way. They were tracked to Sacra- 
mento, and there seen to take the steamboat for San 
Francisco ; hence it was certain they had not returned 
to their mine. Evidently they intended only to un- 
load, and returning to secure another harvest, did not 


others forestall them. Where were the diggings of 
these Ohioans ? 

Early in the spring of this year, three Mexicans 
had struck it rich on Vanfleet creek, a little stream 
near to, and running parallel with Antoine creek. 
Between these two streams James Williams kept a 
store, where the lucky miners made deposits for safe- 
keeping. Williams, wishing to retire, notified all per- 
sons to romove their deposits. With the rest, the 
Mexicans came and took away their gold, which by 
this time amounted to seventy-five pounds in weight. 
Greedy eyes watched them as they went, and murder- 
ous feet followed them. 

In the last party that set out from Antoine creek 
in search of the Ohio diggings was James W. Mar- 
shall. They had spent over a fortnight climbing rug- 
ged mountains, and stumbling through dark ravines ; 
their food was almost gone, and they had turned their 
faces homeward, when, by an abrupt bend in the 
aboriginal trail which they had found, they entered a 
cool, grassy glen. So shaded was it, and so suddenly 
went they into it from the sunlight, that at first they 
did not see the horrors it contained — here a ghastly 
skeleton with a round hole in the skull ; there another 
with a bullet through the heart ; yonder a third whose 
feet had caught in the vines as the swift messenger 
of death had overtaken him from behind. The car- 
cases of four horses, their packs and saddles unre- 
moved, were found near by. One after another of 
these dismal objects Marshall's observant eye took in; 
then after a moment's pause, while a dark cloud 
gathered about his brow, he said, '' Boys, we have 
found the Ohio diggings I" 

Upon the discovery of gold within the domain re- 
cently acquired, the question arose. Shall foreigners 
be allowed equal privileges with American citizens in 
abstracting the precious metal ? 

It should be borne in mind that both the Spanish 


and Mexican governments were exceedingly jealous of 
foreigners of every nationality, and particularly of 
esos malos americanos. The Hispano- American, how- 
ever, when he found himself fairly under the laws and 
government of the United States, was solicitous to 
sustain himself and his rights, while the Anglo- 
American, with his shrewder instincts, now became 
sensitive of sharing his new possessions with others, 
particularly with Spanish speaking Americans. They 
claimed that California's shady valleys and fertile 
plains, and the metals of her mountains should be theirs, 
and theirs alone. And yet, here were all the nations 
of the earth rushing in pell-mell, seizing the lands, and 
pocketing the gold ; seizing and pocketing as unre- 
strictedly as those who had fought in Mexico, or as 
those assessed for the purchase of a new wilderness. 
In regard to permitting foreigners to abstract from 
the foothills, the American miner might truthfully 
say that his government possessed both the right and 
the power to keep its treasures if it would, and induc- 
tively he might bring himself into the belief that in 
the absence of government or governmental protection, 
he, a unit of the government, possessed the same right 
to determine a policy, and enforce his own regulations 
that he had to punish crime under like conditions. 
But in entertaining the idea that they possessed the 
right to act for the government in allowing or disal- 
lowing foreigners access to the country's mineral 
wealth, the American miners failed to remember that 
antecedents, facts, and precedents were against them; 
that reciprocity treaties with several nations were in 
force ; that when no such treaties existed there was 
no prohibition ; in fact, that the policy of the federal 
government had ever been to open wide its doors, en- 
courage immigration, and offer equal rights to all. 
Under this known and recognized policy, equivalent 
to tacit consent, foreigners came hither, and it 
was now too late to question their presence, or to 
drive them by force of arms from our shores. 


Native American citizens objected to foreigners fill- 
ing their purses from the wealth of the foothills, and 
returning to their own countries. They particularly 
objected to Chinese and Spanish-Americans. White 
skins were for a time welcome among the American 
miners ; but Indians, Africans, Asiatics, Islanders, 
and mixed breeds generally, were detested. 

The state of California having no title to either 
the agricultural or mineral lands lying within her 
limits, her legislature possessed no right to impose 
a special tax on foreign miners as it attempted to do. 
Nor was it for the state, but for the United States, 
to say what should be done with the gold embanked 
in the foothills, or who should or should not abstract 
it, or pay for the privilege of abstracting it. The tax 
thus attempted to be levied was twenty dollars per 
month. The people soon saw the folly of such a 
measure. The miners scarcely averaged twenty dol- 
lars a month after all their expenses were paid. But 
those hostile to the Spanish- Americans, and other for- 
eign elements among the mining population gained 
their point. The Evening Picayune of San Francisco 
said on the 14th of August 1850, '^We infer, with 
tolerable certainty, that from fifteen to twenty thou- 
sand Mexicans, and perhaps an equal number of 
Chilenos, are now leaving, or preparing to leave Cali- 
fornia for their own country." It is true that certain 
outrages committed in the south had something to do 
with this exodus, but undoubtedly the main cause 
was the passage, by the legislature at San Jose, of 
the law to tax foreign miners. It would be useless 
to deny that the first day the tax-gatherers appeared at 
Sonora, where hitherto peace and amity had presided, 
the community was split in two, and arrayed one part 
against the other with bowie-knife and revolver. 

It was a great error to suppose that the value of 
gold to California lay in enriching a few trappers, 
farmers, and emigrants. Such narrow-mindedness 
could not compass the idea of enticing energy and 


capital from all parts of the world, to secure quick 
settlement and rapid development, doing in one year 
the work that under different circumstances might 
occupy one hundred years to accomplish. 

The objectionable law was repealed in March 1851. 
A tax of four dollars was, however, finally imposed 
on Chinese laborers in the mines ; the only reason for 
discriminating against these people being that they 
were low, helpless creatures, without even a vote to 
sell. The miserable spirit of discriminating against 
foreigners had shown itself in other ways. On the 
5th of August 1850, the San Francisco board of 
aldermen by resolution prohibited that aliens should 
engage in draying, driving hackney coaches, rowing 
boats for the conveying of passengers, or selling 
spirituous liquors. 

By midsummer of 1850 anarchy prevailed in the 
southern mines with alarming proportions. At Mor- 
mon gulch resolutions were passed that all Mexicans 
should quit those diggings within fifteen days, or be 
forcibly expelled. However, this was the action of 
foreigners, not of Americans. At Sonora it was 
ordered that all foreigners, except such as were en- 
gaged in permanent and respectable pursuits, should 
leave the country within fifteen days. Reading this 
between the lines, it meant, if we may believe the 
San Francisco Journal of Commerce of July 29, 1850, 
that the Americans had determined that all Mexi- 
cans and Chilians must quit the country. That 
journal justified the policy because, as it alleged of 
''atrocities daily perpetrated by foreigners of Spanish- 
American origin." The native Indian did not rank 
high enough in the scale of humanity to command 
the deliberations of any august popular meeting. If 
he dared strike a blow, whatever its object might be, 
even in defence of his wife and children, an outcry 
was raised, and mounted men with rifles would ride 
to the rancheria, and shoot down men, women, and 
children^ innocent and guilty, promiscuously. Who 


would waste time in trying savages for their lives ? 
A whole rancheria of 150 souls, for the killing of one 
Anderson, under the severest provocation, and the 
stealing of some cattle, were shot down and butcherd 
with knives in the most cowardly manner by self- 
styled citizens of Trinity county, in April 1852. 
Hundreds of such disgraceful instances might be re- 
corded had I the time, space, or inclination to parade 

During 1852 the crusade against foreign miners 
reached its climax, with the result that in the spring 
of the year Mexican guerrilla bands extended from 
Mariposa to Mokelumne hill. The Americans of 
Saw-mill Flat, in Tuolumne, would have been massa- 
cred on the rth of July, but for an Italian who 
warned them. They thereupon took up arms and 
drove all foreigners from the locality. Many meas- 
ures adopted to drive foreigners from the mining 
claims with varied success might be mentioned, but for 
lack of space I must leave them out of these pages. 
It is worthy of notice, however, that amidst the strong 
feeling aroused on many occasions, and the multitudin- 
ous threats, little blood was shed. The Americans 
were none of the time sure that they were right, and 
their action was much less determinate and uniform 
than in the administration of popular justice. 

As time went by, from urging persecutions against 
all foreigners alike, it became directed against Asiatics 
only. In this cowardly work, white foreigners them- 
selves, but recently obnoxious to American citizens, 
were the chief instigators. By this time the better 
class of Americans had given up the occupation of 
mining ; and the dregs of the nationalities had taken 
their places to glean what they could from the leav- 
ings. The latter continued the persecutions against 
the Chinese. 

The president said in his message to congress, De- 
cember 2, 1850, that he was at first disposed to favor 
the plan of leasing the mines, or of granting licenses 



to miners In such a way as best to protect mineral 
lands against monopolies, and secure to the govern- 
ment the largest revenue ; but on second thought he 
recommended parcelling the mining territory into 
small lots and selling it. This plan was equally imi- 
politic and impracticable. Fancy a prospector buying 
a lot in the Sierra foothills, and then examining it to 
see if it contained gold ; if not, buying another, and so 
on until he owned a barren mountain side .' • Then to 
guard these mineral government lands, to drive off 
the miners, and prevent poaching, would require a 
military force larger than the army in Mexico, and a 
moral force ten times greater than the federal govern- 
ment was able at that time to command in California. 
The miners were essentially migratory in their habits, 
ranging over a vast wilderness of gold-fields, digging 
a little here and a little there, trying in many places 
before finding a spot worth working. This shows how 
utterly incapable were strangers to legislate on Califor- 
nia affairs. 

Disputes between water and mining companies often 
led to blows and frequently resulted in loss of life, 
sometimes open war would wage, the contending par- 
ties ranging themselves on either side armed to the 
teeth with knives, revolvers and ojuns. Firfits would 
supplement suits at law, and lawsuits follow fights. 

It is not at all certain that, in the then existing 
state of things, any legislation by congress in respect 
to mineral lands would have carried much weight in 
the mining districts of California. Miners had become 
too much accustomed to their own way, and were, in 
fact, better able to take care of themselves than were 
eastern politicians. Nevertheless there were many 
serious aftrays which would not have occurred had the 
laws regarding mineral lands been more strictly de- 
fined ; — instance the following : 

A rich vein of quartz was discovered on Carson 
hill by one Alfred Morgan, who, with seven men, took 
possession and began to work in October 1850. They 


claimed 1,000 feet along the ledge, being 125 feet to 
each man. For nine months they remained in peacea- 
ble possession, working their mine continuously. The 
richness of the vein drew to the hill many miners, 
who at length began to question the right of Morgan 
and his men to hold so much ground ; and the ques- 
tion of title once raised, soon the whole claim was 
covered with squatters. Morgan appealed to the 
courts and was declared the rightful possessor; but 
when the sheriff attempted to place him in possession 
the squatters declared they would die before yieldihg 
their claims. Further than this, being greatly supe- 
rior in numbers, they held a meeting and passed reso- 
lutions that Morgan and his company should leave 
the camp within an hour, or be driven thence. The 
property in their cabin, said their resolutions, was to 
be "held sacred." The resolutions of 200 armed men 
against eight usually prevailed in the mines, so 
next day all that was left of the Morgan company on 
Carson hill was the cabin with its sacred utensils — 
hallowed pots and kettles and holy woolen shirts. 

Thus ejected from a ledge of his own discovering, of 
which the courts had declared him the rightful owner, 
Morgan heralded his wrongs in every direction, and 
called upon the neighboring camps to sustain him in 
his rights. The opposite party likewise sent forth 
messengers asking a suspension of public opinion, 
threatening at the same time to raise five hundred 
men for a fight. Meanwhile Morgan went to Sonora, 
where he found fifty men to join his standard. With 
these he set out on his return to Carson hill ; but on 
the way nearly half his force deserted, thinking it 
hardly the mark of wisdom to risk their necks in other 
men's quarrels. Arriving after night, Morgan en- 
camped with about thirty men in a canon under the 
hill, intending next day to open a fight for the prem- 
ises. A gun accidentally discharged made known 
their presence to the opposite party, who, supposing 
their number ten times greater than it was, abandoned 


the place. Next morning Morgan took peaceable 
possession of the hill, but when the squatters saw by 
how small a force they had been ousted, bristling with 
arms, and ranged in three concentric circles, they sur- 
rounded the hill to the number of about one hundred 
and fifty, and threatened the Morgan party with ex- 
termination if they did not leave immediately. After 
calm consultation, the besieged concluded to withdraw, 
wisely preferring to trust their cause to a course of 
moderation than to mar it by bloodshed. Posting 
notices of warning to intruders, and leaving one of 
their number to act as their agent, they withdrew. 
The besiegers then ascended the hill and took posses- 
sion ; the agent they seized, and declared him under 

This is one version of the story ; I have another. 
Hance and Finnegan owned a rich quartz claim, dis- 
covered in 1849, on Carson hill. Needing machinery, 
Finnegan went east to purchase it, and was gone about 
two years. On his return, he learned to his astonish- 
ment that Hance had sold the claim to Morgan and 
Company, and had absconded with the proceeds. 
Finnegan's mind was troubled yet more wlien informed 
that the claim had yielded over a million of dollars. 
December of 1851 saw the Hill the centre of great 
commotion. Tearfully Finnegan besouglit the miners' 
aid; so they drove Morgan out, and placed lum in 
possession. Morgan called upon the courts to save 
him, and the courts placed Morgan in possession. But 
what is law without popular support ? Finnegan called 
his friends, the miners, together ; the call was largely 
answered, for the country for miles around was by 
this time deeply stirred. In fact, it was open war be- 
tween the people and the courts. At this meeting, 
the miners voted the judge's decision a fraud. They 
resolved that Morgan should leave the Hill, and then 
drove him away. It was now Morgan's turn to secure 
allies. Calling a m.eeting, which was likewise largely 
attended, he secured a host of adherents, who pledged 


themselves to stand by him and support the courts. 
During these excitements hundreds of armed men 
appeared ranged on either side, but none were killed 
or wounded. Here ended the matter. 

The miners loved to regulate their own affairs, par- 
ticularly mining matters, and hanging. At a meeting 
held Sunday evening, the 20th of April, 1851, at 
Horseshoe bar, the following pertinent if not logical 
resolutions were adopted : 

That we are in favor of law and order, and are willing to obey all man- 
dates of our courts, and all authority coming in a proper and legitimate way; 
but that we do not recognize the right of jurisdiction of our courts in cases 
of trespass on mineral claims, and that we believe all difficulties of the miners 
in respect to their claims can be settled far more speedily, with greater jus- 
tice, and with far less cost and trouble, by the miners themselves than by 
any court now existing in the state. 

Resolved, that we are not in favor of throwing our cases into courts which 
have not been found able to exercise their authority in such a way as to give 
to the people a feeling of satisfaction; and that while we charge none with 
corruption or dishonesty, we believe it to be the rottenness of our courts that 
has brought them into disrepute. We think too many of our public officers 
are more familiar with monte than they are with mining, and believe they 
have a better knowledge of twenty-one than they have of trespass on min- 
eral claims. 

Resolved, that we will not carry the differences which arise among us in 
regard to leads and claims before any court until a proper one be established 
by the general government; that we will discountenance all such appeals, 
and that as for ourselves, we will resist as best we can all attempts of our 
courts to exercise jurisdiction of this kind. 

In criminal affairs, the miners were governed simply 
by their ideas of right, formulated to some extent by 
tradition, but always in the ends of justice. In civil 
cases, all depended upon agreement, and if there was 
no agreement, then upon custom and equity. The 
miners of every locality met and made their own laws 
regulating right of occupation ; for the rest, there was 
little to question or dispute about. These laws were 
much alike in the different districts, and yet they varied 
a little. There were hundreds of them, enough to fill 
a volume. I give a few as samples. 

' Following are the regulations adopted by the min- 
ers of the Kock Creek Ditch and Mining District at 
a meeting held the 1st of December, 1853. 

I. This district shall be bounded by the Fordyce and Booth Rock Creek 
Districts on two sides, the Spout Spring ravine on the lower sides, and the 
south branch of Rock Creek on the other. 



n. All claims shall be one hundred feet front, running into the moun- 
tain to such depth as the parties locating may desire. 

III. Tliat it is necessary to thoroughly prospect the said ground, and that 
the prospecting of one claim will test the whole. All persons holding claims 
are requested to assist in running in a cut — to be commenced so soon as it 
rains, and all persons who may assist in the cut shall be entitled to one claim 
extra as discoverers. 

IV. All claims not represented in the cut shall have two full day's work 
in six, done on them, or otherwise are subject to forfeiture. 

V. Where claims are not workable for want of water, a notice shall be 
placed on them and renewed every thirty days. 

VI. John Wharton, Sr, was duly elected recorder of said district, and 
all claims shall be duly recorded within three days from day of location or 

At a meeting of the miners of Willow Hollow was 
held at the Willow Valley house, in Nevada town- 
ship, on Monday, January 23d, to organize a new 
mining district: 

On motion it was resolved that this district be called the Willow Valley 
Mining District, and is bounded as follows, viz: On the south commencing 
at Beck's rancho — running with the wagon road to the foot of Saccarrappa 
Flat, then southeast, to the head of Mosquito creek, thence east to Slate 
creek — including both l)anks of said stream; east by Slate creek, on the 
north by the Sugar Loaf mountain range, and west by Beck's rancho. 
On motion of S. B. Herrick, the following laws were adopted: 
Sec. 1 . The size of claims on gulch or ravine diggings shall be one hun- 
dred feet long, and across the same, from bank to bank, on flats, one hundred 
feet square. The discoverer shall be entitled to two claims of the above 
size. The discoverer of quartz leads shall be entitled to two hundred feet in 
length by the width of the lead, including its dips and angles, and all others 
one hundred feet in length. 

2. All claims hereafter located, or re-located, shall be plainly marked out 
by a stake at eacli end, with the owners' name inscribetl thereon, and alio 
actual work done on them ; they must also be recorded witliin tliree days 
thereafter. The recorder shall receive fifty cents for each claim recorded. 

3. The work done on gulch, ravine, or flat claims shall be commenced 
within fifteen days after they are in a workable condition, and cayote claims 
within twenty days. The size of cayote claims shall be sixty feet square, 
and shall be prosecuted so long as said claims are workable, or they shall be 
subject to re-location by posting notices on both ends of said claim, with 
the owner's name on them, and commencing and prosecuting the work so 
long as they are in a workable condition. 

4. Each man in the district may hold one hill claim, one ravine claim, 
one flat claim, and one quartz claim by location, and as many more as he has 
already, or may hereafter purchase; provided he has bona fide bills of sale of 
the same. 

5. A company or companies working upon one claim where they have 
claims adjoining, or upon tail-races, ditches, shafts, or sluice-boxes, for the 
purpose of working claims, shall be considered as working upon said claims. 

6. These laws may be altered or amended at a regular meeting of the 
miners of this district, notice of which shall be posted in three public places, 
ten days previous to the meeting. 

7. The recorder shall be elected by ballot, and his term of office shall 
continue one year. 

8. Any person who shall violate or refuse to be governed by the laws of 
this district, shall not be entitled to hold mining ground in the same. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 16 


9. All water running in its natural channel belongs to the miners on said 
channel, each miner having a right to use the same on his own ground. 

10. All claims held by companies or individuals in this district shall be 
recorded by the 1st of January. 

11. These laws are not intended to apply to private rights, heretofore 
obtained in accordance with the common customs and usages of miners. 

At a meeting of the miners of Bear river, for the 
purpose of making laws and regulations for said min- 
ing locality, it was resolved : 

1. That the newly discovered mining district shall be known as Mammoth 
Springs diggings. 

2. That all claims in the bed of the river shall be ninety feet in length, 
running up or down said stream. 

3. That the bed of the stream be considered that part of said stream 
lying between its bars and banks. 

4. That all claims in bars or banks of said stream shall be sixty feet 
running up and down the same. 

5. That notices of claims shall hold good for ten days from date of notice, 
when, if not worked, said claims are forfeited. 

6. That all bank claims that are not workable shall hold good until they 
are workable. 

A meeting of the miners of Mammoth Springs 
diggings was held, pursuant to previous notice, at 
the store of S. M. Young, on Bear river, when a 
recorder of claims in the district and judges were 
elected, and the following resolutions offered : 

1. That the price of recording claims shall be one dollar for each claim. 

2. That when miners are working on their claims said claims shall be 
considered good whether recorded or not. 

3. That river claims shall hold good until considered workable by a 
majority of miners of this district. 

4. That the boundaries of Mammoth Springs diggings be considered from 
Wm Bradley & Co. 's claim up the river to Bear valley. 

5. That no person be allowed more than one workable claim at a time by 

6. That a person may hold as many claims by purchase as he thinks 

7. That claims in this district if not represented or recorded within ten 
days from this date shall be considered jumpable. 

8. As amendment to resolution, know, too, that the time for working the 
bed of the stream shall be the first of June. 

9. That a copy of these laws be left in ^possession of the recorder, and 
the chairman of this meeting. 

10. That the laws of this district heretofore enacted and also the proceed- 
ings of this meeting be published in the Nevada Journal and Young America. 

At a meeting of the miners in Nevada county, 
January 15, 1854, the following laws were read and 
adopted : 

Sec. 1. The name of this mining ground shall be called Myres Ravine 
Mmmg district. 

2d. Said district is bounded as follows: On the east by the Native Ameri- 
can ravme, south by West Hill district, west by a straight north and south 
-Ime runnmg past the head waters of Myres ravine to the Yuba, thence 


-down the Yuba to the mouth of Native American ravine to the starting 

3d. Each claim shall be one hundred feet square. 

4th. Each claim or company's claim shall be worked every ten days, 
Sundays excepted, with one full day's labor and renewal of notice. When 
a company has claims adjoining, working on one shall be considered as work- 
ing on the whole. All claims not workable to advantage for want of water, 
or any other cause, shall hold good three months by being recorded, and a 
record of the causes, stating the reason or reasons why they are not work- 

5th. That no person shall hold more than one claim by location; he may, 
however, hold as many by purchase as are worked, according to the laws, 
provided, he has a bona Jide uiW of sale signed by two witnesses. 

6th. There shall be a recorder elected for the term of one year, whose 
duty it shall be to record these laws and all others that may be passed here- 
after in a book prepared for that purpose, to record all claims, transfers, 
and bills of sale, for which he shall receive fifty cents for each claim, trans- 
fer or bill of sale recorded. 

7th. Each company sliall have its ground defined by substantial stakes, 
with notice of tlie number of claims held and name of the secretary of said 
company on the notice. 

8th. That all disputes that may arise in regard to claims shall be decided 
by arbitration of the miners of this district, and each party shall choose a 
disinterested man, and the two a third one to arbitrate the matter. 

9th. That the arlntrators' and witnesses' fees shall be the same as allowed 
by the county ctmrt to jurors, and paid by the party in default. 

10th. That these laws may be altered or amended by giving ten days 
notice, and signed by twelve interested miners of this district, stating tlie 
object in writing, and sticking up said notice in five of the most conspicuous 
places in this district^ by a vote of the majority of the miners interested in 
this district being present at such a meeting, 

11th. That E. D. Dean be and is hereby elected recorder. 

12th. That these laws shall be in full effect after this date, January 18, 

At a meeting of the miners of Pleasant Flat held 
August 1, 1854, E. Mills was called to the chair, and 
E. P. Palmer appointed secretary. The following by- 
laws were adopted : 

That said flat shall be called Pleasant Flat Mining district. 

Article 1st. Pleasant Flat district is bounded on the lower end by the 
canon, or the claims known as Jewett & Co. 's claims, and extends up the 
Flat to the upper end of H. H. Roberts & Co. 's claims, and on each side from 
hill to hill. 

Article 2d. Each claim in the creek shall consist of sixty feet in length, 
extending from bank to bank, and not interfering with claims formerly lo- 

Article 3d. Each claim in the flat shall consist of eighty feet square. 

Article 4th. Each miner on said flat shall be entitled to one claim by 
location and five by purchase. 

Article 5th. When there is not sufficient water to supply each company 
of men in the Flat, they shall be limited to forty-five inches each, with six- 
inch pressure, commencing at the lower co., and extending up the flat as the 
water fails, until tliey are all limited, allowing the upper cos. the first right. 

Article 6th. Each man or co. is required to have his claims recorded on 
the secretary's book, and to perform one full day's work on his or co.'s claims 
every tenth day, when he or co. can obtain the amount of water specified in 
the 5th article. Otherwise his claims are forfeitable, if recorded from the 
first of November, 1854, until the first of May, 1855. 


Article 7th. No man, or company of men, shall be allowed to put a dam 
or any obstruction in the creek or side race so as to damage the claims above 
or below. Each company is required to keep the side race in order opposite 
their own claims. , „ , , ^ , „ 

Article 8th. It shall be the duty of the secretary or recorder to record all 
claims in the district if requested by the claim-holder, and to specify the 
boundaries of each claim or company's claim. For which the secretary shall 
receive the sum of twenty-five cents for recording each claim. 

Article 9th. Each company shall have the right to cut a drain race 
through the claims below, and if the party cannot agree upon the amount of 
damage, if any, they shall leave it to disinterested persons. And that all 
difficulties arising in this district in regard to mining claims shall be settled 
by disinterested miners of the district. 

Article 10th. That each company shall empty their tailings on their own 

Article 11th. That these laws be subject to amendment by a vote of two 
thirds of the miners of the district. 

Article 12th. Ihat a copy of these laws shall be published in the Nevada 
Journal, and three copies shall be posted in the district. , 

At a meeting of the miners of Bush Creek, held 
September 4, 1854, on motion, M. S. Cleveland was 
called to the chair, and N. A. Hicks was appointed 

On motion, a committee of three was appointed to 
draft resolutions for the action of this meeting, A. 
B. Swan, H. A. Lonas, and M. Sullivan, member^. 

The following resolutions were presented, and unan- 
imously adopted : 

1st. That this district shall be known as Lower Bush Creek district. 

2d. That the boundary shall be as follows: commencing at the Upper 
Falls, or at the lower line of Allen's claims, and running down to the fall* 
blasted by Brush Creek Co. in 1853, including five claims in the Rock Creek 
adjoining, and ten claims in Miles' Ravine. 

3d. That the claims shall be sixty feet in length, and extending from 
bank to bank. 

4th. That any person may hold one claim by location, and as many by 
purchase as he may see proper. 

5th. That any person owning claims in this district can leave and vacate 
the same until there is sufficient water for ground-sluicing by having them 
recorded in the recorder's book, giving number and location of the same 
within ten days after this date. 

6th. That these resolutions be published in the Nevada Journcd, 

According to previous notice, a meeting of the miners 
ot Little Deer creek was held on Saturday. Septem- 
ber 9, 1854, and adopted unanimously the following 
additional laws : 

1st. There shall be no dams or obstruction kept In the channel of Little 
Deer creek during the freshets, either at or above or below low water mark, 
except the dam at the falls, which may be kept in during the freshets. 

2d. That the company or companies using the water of the creek shall 
not drop the same in cuts or flumes so as to prevent the company or companies 
below them from using the same water. 


3d. That all companies shall have the right to drain through claims, cuts, 
or flumes below them by paying damages, if any are sustained. 

It was unanimously resolved that the above laws be considered as addi- 
tional to the formei- laws, passed at a previous meeting, governing Little 
Deer creek, and that they be published in the Nevada Journal. 

The following characteristic letter to the Nevada 
Journal speaks for itself : 

Red Dog, November 23, 1855. 

Mr Editor: Through the columns of your paper I wish to state a few of 
the grievances, and disadvantages under which we, in this district, as a min- 
ing community, have to labor. It has been proven to the satisfaction of all 
that the claims here will not remunerate us, as long as the present high price 
of water is sustained. But when we can purchase water for two bits an 
inch or less, we can make good wages and occasionally have a day of grace. 
We do not wish to make perfect slaves of ourselves to support a few men, 
and pay for the keeping of their fast horses, but we wish for a decrease in 
the price of water, in order that we may enjoy this life, without working so 
hard, as well as those fortunate enough to be ditch-owners. 

There were but two or three of the claims here that paid wages and 
water last winter, and the miners worked througli all the storms. The most 
of us have signed an agreement not to pay over twenty-five cents an inch for 
water this season, and we think the ditch company will have to come to 
terms if they calculate to sell us any water this winter. 

The Chalk Bluff ditch company Ijuilt a large reservoir last season to sup- 
ply this place ; perhaps you have heard of it. Well, it cost over §2000, and 
that will be a dead loss if they do not accede to reasonable terms, ^^'e must 
have a chance to save some of our hard earnings. If the ditch companies 
wont come down, the merchants must. Hoping these few lines may meet 
the eyes of the companies or their agents, and cause them to turn from the 
error of their ways ere it is too late, I subscribe myself. 

An Honest Miner. 

Let US now see how the miners defended what they 
regarded as their rights. In the summer of 1851 
there were two large companies at work at Coloma. 
One, composed of Germans, known as the Tunnel 
company, was sued by the other for backing up water 
to their injury. The Tunnel company was ordered by 
the court to pay §200 and lower the dam. The court 
allowed them ten days ; but as they refused to obey 
the decree, at tlie expiration of that time, on the 28th 
of July, 1851, Rogers, the sheriff, with a small posse 
proceeded to the dam, intending to tear it down. He 
found the place guarded by 150 armed men prepared 
to resist. The sheriff withdrew, but soon returned 
with 200 men. When he reached the grounds again, 
prepared to enforce the law, he found the Tunnel 
company had already learned of his movements, and 


yielding to necessity was tearing down the ob- 

Sheldon's rancho on the Cosunmes was the scene 
of civil discord during the first days of July 1851. A 
dam had been built by Sheldon for the purpose of ir- 
rigating his land. But while a benefit to him, it was 
a great injury to the miners working on tlie river 
above, as the water flowed back on their claims ; where- 
fore they rebelled and threatened to destroy his works. 
Sheldon, bringing 150 ranchmen to his support, with 
a six-pounder placed in position, prepared to resist the 
miners. The latter, however, in Sheldon's absence, 
spiked the cannon and took prisoner the man who had 
charge of it. Sheldon, upon his return, finding the 
miners advancing with axes to cut away the centre of 
the breastwork, undertook to defend the dam, and 
with twelve allies walked forward and took positions 
in different places. Sheldon then remonstrated with 
the miners, told them that they were trespassing on 
his property, and threatened death to the first man 
who should attempt to cut away the dam. Immedi- 
ately a shot was fired from the besieging party, strik- 
ing Johjison, one of Sheldon's adherents, and almost 
instantly killing him. Some one in the crowd ex- 
claimed, 'Hhere, we've killed Johnson, now give it to 
Sheldon, give it to Sheldon ! " Half a dozen guns 
were ahued at him, and he, too, fell dead. Another 
of his party was killed and two wounded. Several 
were taken prisoners, but speedily released. The num- 
ber of miners is variously estimated at from forty to 
one hundred. They escaped with little or no injury. 

A difficulty arose at Park bar, about the middle of 
July 1851, over some mining claims. The authorities 
interfered, but were successfully resisted by seven men, 
who maintained their claim in a most defiant manner.' 
The authorities then sent to Marysville for assistance, 
and two officers, McCloud and Bowen, came over to 
make an arrest, but were met by sixty belligerents, 
who, armed with pick-handles and stones, drove the 


officers away. The deputy sheriff of Yuba county, 
with a posse of 150 men, then appeared at Park bar 
and arrested two or three of the leaders, who were 
taken to Marysville jail and dealt with according to 
law. The rebellion was subdued and no further diffi- 
culty ensued. 


Es musz auch solche Kauze geben. 


Ne nous emportons point contre les hommes en voyant leur ingratitude, 
leur injustice, leur fierte, I'amour d'eux-memes, et I'oubli desautres ; ilasont 
ainsi faits, c'est leur nature : s'en fdcher, c'est ne pouvoir supporter que la 
pierre tombe, ou que le feu s' el6ve. 

— La Bruy^re 

Phantasia, non homo. 

— Petronius Arbiter, 

Mur. — "VVe are men, my liege. 

Mac. — Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men. 

— Macbeth, 

Human nature turned loose into an unfenced field 
cuts queer capers. This we have seen fully illustrated 
throughout our entire study of the California flush 
times. Why it does so, or from what turned loose, it 
does not know. It knows that it is loosened from 
something, and being like certain gases set free by 
certain salts, its behavior under the new conditions is 
peculiar. But the capers thus cut being of the first 
rank, and the most superior of their kind, may be called 
classical ; being queer they may be called abnormal. 
Man's antics are but aberrations of development ; they 
are a phase of physical and intellectual revolution 
whose origin and circumstance are according to con- 

Until to some extent set at liberty, human nature 
never knows that it has been bound ; and when it be- 
gins to know and feel its bonds, it cannot tell by' what 
powers it was enslaved. And even when its iron fet- 



ters, firmly grasped, crumble in the hand, it wonders 
why it wore them so long. Who is man's master ? 
Hhnself. The greatest master of the greatest mechan- 
ism. Self-control, more difficult than control of 
lightning, or other elemental force. What are the con- 
ditions of this self-subordination or self-slavery ? As- 
sociation. If man remained alone, he would have no 
use for such words as master, slave, as there would 
be no other subordination than to nature. 

Why then should man, the freest thing in nature, 
the only free and independent lord of all, why should 
he hunt so far and wide for powers under which to 
place himself in subjection ? Until he has served a 
long apprenticeship, an apprenticeship of ages upon 
ages, ten thousand or ten millions of years, it will do 
no good to say to him, fool I devil-maker, god-maker, 
conscience-manufacturer, moral ity-molder, why go you 
so far along the lane of blind stupidity, with eyes 
riveted on the ground, with fetters riveted on every 
natural and artificial element of your nature, refusing 
to see, feel, or think ? Before the coming hither of 
the men of 'forty-nine, they were bound, tied body 
and soul by laws, traditions, and conventionalities. 
Here for a moment they were free, absolutely free, 
whereupon straightway they must forge for them- 
selves new fetters. 

The migration of the gold-diggers marks an epoch 
in history ever to be remembered, and many times 
more to be commented upon. Many of them travelled 
half way round the world to reach their destination ; 
many reached the spot only to lay down their lives. 
What a mixture of matters 1 Gold-hunger and strain- 
ing self-denial ; ceaseless gnawing within, and sweet 
air and sunshine still running to waste without; and 
in the midst of all death, cold, relentless death, hor- 
rible termination to happy hopes ! 

The very deep did rot: O Christ! 
That ever this shouhl be! 
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 
Upon the slimy sea. 


All sprinkled was the wide ocean with ships, the 
wavy plains with moving congregations. One is the 
counterpart of the other ; the ocean is but billowy 
hills and restful plains, the mountains petrified waves. 
All the world was up, and every man wished to be 
a-top of it; for long ages ago the golden crop was 
sown, and now the golden harvest is to be gathered. 
Following the phantom hope, following the fantastic 
visions of his brain, starboard, larboard, now to the 
south, now to the west and north, fitful fate leading, 
ten thousand men were on these ships whose thousand 
roads were here converging. Virtue, health, knowl- 
edge, fame, wealth, and heavenly expectation all lay 
in this one direction. Drifting south toward the 
burning sun, I being also there, softer and warmer 
broke the breeze upon our brow, and warmer grew 
the waves as, sailing southward from out the black 
night and thundering sky, we dashed into the day- 
light. The sky was studded with new stars; and 
nightly came the bashful moon creeping timidly up 
from the horizon far behind the clouds, trembling at 
her own presumption after so gorgeous a display of 
the sun's majesty. Round the land's end and steering 
northward, with certain thousand leagues yet to sail, 
three several times with chafing spirits in unwel- 
come rest we lay twelve days wasting of famine and 
weariness, waiting the tardy wind. Yet presently 
with fresh wind we onward swiftly drive again as if 
for our ship, as for that of the ancient mariner, the 
wind opened before and closed behind. As Anaxa- 
goras remarked of hades, the distance to California in 
those days was about the same from one place as from 

There are evils springing from ocean travel, yet 
one cannot but be improved by it. Go on board a 
steamer, shut yourself in your room, throw yourself 
on your bunk, and even amidst the frequent paroxysms 
arising from troublous unrest, the intellect seems to 
enlarge and become luminous like the phosphorescent 


sea smitten by the ship's paddles. While the mind is 
tlius burnished by the rolling of the ship, I have felt 
every throe of sea-sickness to be like the birth of a 
new thought, and followed by mental exaltation and 

Whether on sea or land there were the sky and 
horizon, and the level-round planet floor, and the stal- 
wart men passing over it with their wives and little 
ones, and all their belongings, carrying them to new 
lands, as ^neas carried to new lands the national gods 
of Troy and the sacred fire of Vesta. At Green river 
I have seen upon a background of smoky blue, light- 
ening-streaked cloud-walls, glowing in their anger like 
a heated furnace, while from the sandy sky above the 
rain poured down in dusky streaks. 

It might be a summer holiday or it might be misery 
and death. For among the wayfarers were women 
gaunt and ghastly, and men shrivelled and haggard 
and wan, the human in them devoured by hunger, 
leaving only the reasonless and grotesque. 

Give drink to the alkaline sage-plains of Nevada, 
and a garden is their smile of thankfulness ; give these 
men gold to drink, their thirsty heart's desire, and 
they will rear before the world a new civilization. 
And this gold should be theirs ; they would achieve 
it; what others have done they can do; and so for 
the time must rest satisfied. This thirst for gold, 
to their deluded vision was like snow seen through 
the pellucid air from the sun-scorched plain, lying on 
the seemingly so near 3^et distant hills. 

Over the treeless and birdlcss plains, the blistered 
passionless plains; over the waves of soapy ground, 
round the sunburnt hills, and along benches of rotten 
rock, then down where the tall grass borders putrid 
pools, and the rivers are woe-begone, discouraged and 
lifeless, they come at length to the frowning side of 
the Sierra, which they bravely assail, and reach the 
snowy summits mottled with green ; then dropping 
gently down the seaward side they find at the foot hills 


chasing hills in low rounded rythm, while November's 
moisture tints the gray plats with green, and the 
swelling bud begins to push from the branches of the 
trees their dry leaves. 

''Eureka I" exclaimed Archimedes, as the method 
of determining specific gravity flashed upon him while 
in the bath. '* Eureka ! " cried the gold-thirsty thous- 
ands as, striking their picks in the gravelly bottoms 
of the Pactolian streams, they turned up the glittering 
sand which was to be healing balm for all the nationa. 

In the hope of a sudden acquisition of wealth there 
is that which strikes the imagination and rouses the 
spirits not found in the patient plodding walks of in- 
dustr}^ or commerce. At such times the mind be- 
comes so inflamed, and the judgment so warped, that 
the venturer closes the eye to danger and disappoint- 
ment, and visions of the coveted treasure only absorb 
the mind. 

To these early diggers California was the Ompha- 
los, the earth's navel-stone, the very centre of created 
things ; she was what Ithaca was to Ulysses. 

A rough, wild nurse-land but whose crops are men, 
A land where, girt by friends and foes, 
A man might say the thing he would. 

They were no brainless brood of mad adventurers, 
though among them were many such. They were 
gods, and god-makers. First of all labor was deified, 
digging for gold being no child's play, but work — 
labor and rags. Into Jove's hands was placed a 
pick, and Minerva was made to stand in the state 
seat; Jupiter was not permitted to go naked, neither 
must he wear store clothes. They themselves dis- 
played their contempt of conventionalities by dressing 
as badly as they could, and if by chance one of them 
became suddenly rich, he dressed worse than the rest. 
Some, if they did not attempt the perfect nudity of 
the Picards in Flanders, and ape Adam in paradise, 
came near to it, their wardrobe being shirt and over- 
alls, with the shirt usually left off. 


There are a hundred ways to measure a man's soul 
— hy the size of his gift ; by the breadth of his self- 
denial for the sake of others ; by the command over self; 
by the devotion to a cause ; by the powers of endur- 
ance; by magnanimity or meanness— and all the rest. 
Wherever the achievement of stubborn fact is subordi- 
nated to the tickling of a fancy there is sure to be cheat- 
ing and quackery. A school professing superior man- 
ners is not usually renowned as a seat of learning ; a 
temperance hotel is proverbially the poorest of inns, and 
a journal of extra high morality is a poor newspaper. 

What had California to do ? Everything. There 
was the bare stretch of earth, nothing more. It was 
a paradise for wild men, but for civilization's pets it 
must be swept and garnished. After a day of gold- 
digging a government must be estabUshed, lands cul- 
tivated, and by and by cities built, with their streets, 
sewers, churches, houses of prostitution, schools, 
gambhng shops, hospitals, and jails. And while all 
this is going on, in addition to money-making and 
family-rearing, what time shall then be left for the 
more refined culture ? 

Tossings hither and thither, tossings to the larboard 
and to the starboard of the ship of experience, down- 
falls and kicks upward, flesh-tearings, bone-raspings, 
pride-tamings, and the rest — all this is the digging 
and fertilization that makes the barren tree to yield 
fair fruit. Foreign winds blow fresh experience, and 
with the frosting of the hair the brain is made clear. 
Yet all of this in those young days was but a cos in^ 
geniorain, a whetstone for the wits. 

There was here in its warmest mood, circumscribed 
between beginnings and ends, that first element of 
progress, change. Like all the elements of matter, 
like all the forces of nature, men labored in unrest. 
Nothing was fixed, nothing was in repose. Launched 
from the shores of time into the boundless sea of the 
eternities, they could still hear the cries of birth 
minglincy with the moans of death. 


Very different was the Californian nation in its 
making from the American nation. In the settle- 
ment of New England there was an agreement in 
relitrion, in politics, in morals and manners, in every- 
thing appertaiaing to the new commonwealth. One 
was as prim and puritanical as another. All were 
death on sin, and although they had so lately fled 
from persecution, they were little behind their perse- 
cutors in requiring all men to believe what they be- 
lieved. This fanaticism was the strongest element of 
their union, the most exalted of Plymouth-rock senti- 
ments. In California the moral ideal was not nation- 
making, or meeting-house-making, but money-making. 
The meanest of occupations, however, was saturated 
with thought. It was an epoch of expansion, follow- 
ing a long period of concentration of ideas, both upon 
these shores, among the Hispano- Americans, and at 
the east, where intellect was more slowly but none 
the less surely marking out the pathway of its final 

There were yet new moralities under the sun as 
well as new lands. Conscience, which was once con- 
sidered an original faculty, was now regarded as the 
product of an association of ideas. And under the 
new survey, right and wrong assumed original prerog- 
atives. And as the primary elements of the social 
structure in California, more than in any spot or time 
the world has ever seen, were abstracts of the best 
elements of the foremost nations of the earth, so the 
body politic in its completion and entirety was second 
to none. Every element of pioneer character was in- 
stinct with directness and efficiency. 

For the matter of that, there were among them 
men without a country, men who never had a country, 
who, born upon the wing, were accustomed to rest 
on any spot where they happened to light, and to fit 
their ears to any name given them. 

Like animals of an elevated type, while the organ- 
ism grew rapidly, the organs of the body politic of 


California developed slowly. Digestion was good but 
the muscles were soft, the bones cartilaginous; and 
the brain inept and watery. The structure of the in- 
fant state could not in a moment take on the strength 
of the mature man. While ready to profit by the 
experiences of older communities, the people would 
not hamper themselves with ancient restrictions. 

To the Californian, California only was life ; all the 
time coming hither, and after bidding her adieu, was 
like the fly-leaves at the beginning and end of books 
— blanks. Escaped from the tyranny of tradition, he 
must needs purge himself of his piety, as Roman bon 
vivants, to avoid indigestion, took an emetic before sit- 
ting down to dinner; then he might safely launch his 
hopes on the limitless ocean of free thought and un- 
constrained affection. 

How much of all man's infelicities is the result of 
inheritance and environment, which like Harmonia's 
robe, dyed by Vulcan in many crimes, infuse wicked- 
ness and misfortune into the wearer I More than in 
her successes, there are lessons to be learned from 
California's failures. 

They are free and easy, and the best natured people 
in the world. But it is not the good nature of ingen- 
uousness or simplicity. Steamer travel and commer- 
cial intercourse have taught them that good nature 
will carry a man farther and better than bad nature ; 
that while bad nature involves one in difficulties, good 
nature extricates one from them. Their acute per- 
ceptions would prevent their becoming victims of im- 
position, except that this very quality of shrewdness 
lulls suspicion. Their very strength is their weak- 
ness. Frank and free in disposition and dealings, they 
cannot impute mean motives to all wdth w^hom they 
come in contact. When cheated they say little, but 
tlie cheat, his shop, his house, are avoided as those of 
a leper. 

As in Rome in the days of Kutilius, who was im- 
peached and banished because of his obnoxious hon- 


esty, it was becoming really unsafe in California to 
profess or practice virtue too boldly. It was safe to 
display only one's vices. And it is safe to say that 
since ante-Csesarian days, for a time three of the 
Latin deities at least were nowhere more devoutly 
worshipped than here : Plutus, Venus, and Bacchus, 
each one of whom was known to have put to death 
thousands of human beings without a license. 

Now and then was one as lucky as Barney O'Rier- 
don, who, when he was lost at sea, got himself paid 
for piloting the ship that showed him the way home. 
Others were obliged to live like plovers, that is to say 
on little else tlian wind, yet all the while as sure of 
discovering treasure by means of their superior knowl- 
edge or luck as was William Legrand by his scara- 
hxuSy or gold-bug indicator. Many would have 
turned schoolmasters like the younger Virginia scions 
upon the bursting of the Alabama bubble, but unfor- 
tunately there were no children to be taught. It 
takes time and sex to make men, or even youth for 

They had no time for law. Cases were decided by 
the pistol beforehand and tried afterwards. The most 
insignificant quarrels were settled by a resort to arms, 
frequently resulting in the murder of one of the par- 
ties, the survivor finding it often easier to obtain an ac- 
quittal for the crime of murder than some simple mat- 
ter of justice in the courts. Whenever a murderer 
chose to come forward and stand trial he was almost 
sure to be acquitted on the ground of self-defence, 
though he who touched his neighbor's property was 
hunted and hanged. In politics they were as dispu- 
tatious as the Athenians. 

Rude men formed into a new and crude society, 
seize the few pleasures that first present themselves, 
and if these are of a lower order than hitherto have 
been in accordance with the habits and tastes of some 
of them, the more refined soon sink to the level of 
the rest, and accept with thankfulness anything that 


breaks the weary monotony of their hves. Not un- 
frequently they gave themselves up to making night 
hideous. Some crowed like a cock, sounding cut of 
the black darkness the yet unstreaking dawn ; others 
barked like a dog, maligning the howlingest cur that 
ever bayed at the moon by their disgraceful imita- 
tion; he who could make an ass of himself in no 
other way brayed. 

Physicked of former affections and conventionalisms, 
and all having come f jr gold, gold of course was the 
spirit of their contemplations. At night they dreamed 
of it, thougli in the morning they found themselves 
possessed of only visionary wealth. Beneath down- 
ward-pointing fingers glowed the word effode, dig! 
Far and yet farther before them flit the realization 
of their hopes until the very shadow of success sinks 
below the horizon. Their thoughts were gold, golden 
their hopes, fears, loves, hates. They saw the moun- 
tain sides streaked with veins of gold, and gold-dust 
sprinkled the plain. The illuminated heavens were 
golden, likewise tlie flushing earth. 

Wealth was sought not so much for the permanent 
power it conferred, which is its chief attraction in 
staid communities, as for the purchase of present in- 
dulgences, which is the basest use, not absolutely 
criminal, to which money can be put. Money will 
not make rich the prodigal. Nor is commerce bene- 
fited by having more than it needs. Two thousand 
centals of wheat will feed more moutlis than one 
thousand centals ; but two thousand dollars in gold or 
silver depreciated one half by doubling the amount in 
circulation will carry on no more traffic than one 

Extravagance seized the gold-hunter even before he 
had left his home. His resolutions and his desires 
were extravagent. A fortune was his object; heaps 
of gold alone would satisfy him. And great riches, 
the reward of great hardships, once his, great should 
be the indulgence. Carrying with him such expecta- 

Cal. Int. Poc. 17 


tion, he could ill brook the disappointment that 
too frequently awaited his arrival, and the hopes 
and failures that followed only ripened him for any 

As a rule everybody arrived in California poor ; 
many of them remained poor, undergoing more or less 
suflPermg ; and yet there never was what might prop- 
erly be called a poor class upon the coast. S[)read 
out before the adventurer were metal-veined hills and 
fertile valleys ; and with such fair provisions, united 
with health and strength, he was rich though he had 
not a dollar, and did not know where his dinner was 
to come from. * 

To the wise man no circumstances could offer greater 
inducement for the exercise of self-control, for indul- 
gence was always attended with great risk to health 
and life; and yet, self-control was about the last thing 
of which men there were thinking. Money they 
wanted ; behavior was unrestricted. And yet, it soon 
became apparent that in one sense the penalties of 
extravagance and dissipation were not exacted with 
the same regularity in the new community as in the 
old. Rioting was not attended by disgrace ; poverty 
did not necessarily follow prodigality, nor want, pov- 
erty. There were bushels of gold in the placers, the 
property of any one who would take it out, and the 
penniless of to-day might be the envied possessor of a 
pocket-full to-morrow. The improvident sometimes 
seemed to succeed as well as the careless. 

Obviously this tendency to gratify present desires 
at the expense of the future arose from immediate 
surroundings. Reckless expenditures and unbridled 
passions were qualities not inherited from the middle 
classes of staid communities. Improvident English- 
man and thrifty German, alike, on touching California 
soil seemed to lose self-control, and seize proximate 
pleasures regardless of future penalties. Too many 
of them, like Ulysses in the island of Calypso and in 
the halls of Circe, forgot their Penelope, and gave 


themselves up to the sweet entanglements of a new 

What is the strongest force in nature ? Desire. It 
underlies all activities and is the sum of all forces. 
Man desires food and raiment, companionship, aud ten 
thousand gratifications which money will buy. Some 
desire knowledge, some fame, and all spend their time 
in what is called the pursuit of happiness. Entering 
upon the blinder forces of nature, we find attrac- 
tion pulling one way and repulsion another way; the 
inconstant wind hurrying in this direction or that ; 
water rising and floating off in clouds, then falling and 
seeking the sea 1 the great golden sun keeping in mo- 
tion illimitable life and transformation. What is the 
key note of desire? Dissatisfaction. With all wants 
satisfied there would be no desire ; without desire 
there would be no change; without change no progress; 
and without progress it were a dead universe. 


Superanda omnis fortuna ferendo est. 

— Virgil 

To the Greeks, Delphi was the centre of tlie earth , 
to Jews and Christians, Jerusalem; to Californians, 
San Francisco. 

Pastoral San Francisco was but a hamlet. Though 
a seaport, it had little to do with the sea, and was 
more like a cluster of houses in the country than a 
commercial town. The presidio maintained the dig- 
nity of government and war, and the mission the dig- 
nity of religion, so that for the traffickers at the cove 
little dignity remained or was required. Even when 
the galvanic shock of gold-discovery struck the place, 
it did not immediately assume large proportions, but 
rather stood stupified for a moment before setting out 
on its broad pathway of progress. 

Hence it was that during the winter of 1848-9 the 
place did not grow much, nor was it very large by 
the end of 1849. The principal buildings were clus- 
tered around the plaza, or Portsmouth square ; brick 
structures were few, and there was not one really 
substantial building in the place. The greater part of 
the town consisted of tents and small shanties made 
out of packing-boxes, with some not very good houses 
of more pretentious construction. The few travelled 
streets were little better than mire during the rains, 
while the sidewalks were made of barrel staves and 
narrow pieces of board. 



The autumn of 1850 saw quite a city-like settlement 
round Yerba Buena cove. Prices of most necessities 
and some luxuries had come down within the reach of 
the masses, but were still high enough. Several 
new journals were started, such as the Pacific Netcs 
and Commercial Bulletin. The El Dorado gambling- 
house, from a canvas tent, had become a fine three- 
story brick building. The bay was noisy with steamers, 
many of which were transformed sailing boats, with 
old boilers which burst with the slightest provocation. 

The fire of 1850 put an end to many irregularities. 
People then began to build in a more substantial 
manner. The fire of 1851, however, made a clean 
sweep of all that had been done, and the city began 
to assume a more regular appearance. Brick houses 
and planked streets took the place of the huddled huts 
and tents of the previous years. The bay was alive 
with shipping ; by midsummer over a hundred steam- 
ers had entered and departed. 

*^ Old things are passing away," sighed the medita- 
tive man, by old things referring to things two years 
old. The hills were being cut down and the hollows 
filled up. Montgomery street, which was the original 
high-water mark, was now in the heart of the city, 
and Sansome street, whicli had been filled up between 
Jackson and California streets, was the new water 
line. The water lots between Montgomery and San- 
some weru first piled, and then filled in. South of 
California, the steam excavator was busy scooping up 
the sand-hills, and dropping them into the low places 
along the border of the cove. A rail-track was laid 
on Battery street, along whicli cars were seen flying 
back and forth all day, dumping their loads into the 
water, the conductor, mounted on the foremost truck, 
lustily blowing his horn to give warning of approach. 

The space bounded by Montgomery, Pacific, Jack- 
son, and Kearny streets was, in the spring of 1851, a 
hollow filled with little wooden huts planted promis- 
cuously, with numberless recesses and fastnesses filled 


with Chilians — men, women, and children. The place 
was called Little Chile. The women appeared to be 
always washing, but the vocation of the men was a 
puzzle to the passers-by. Neither the scenery of the 
place nor its surroundings were very pleasant, particu- 
larly in hot weather. On one side was a slimy bog, 
and on the other rubbish heaps and sinks of ofFal. 
Notwithstanding, it was home to them, and from their 
filthy quarters they might be seen emerging on Sun- 
days, the men washed and clean-shirted, and the 
women arrayed in smiling faces and bright-colored 
apparel. They could work and wallow patiently 
through the week provided they could enjoy a little 
recreation and fresh air on Sunday. Whenever a 
vessel arrived from a home port, the camping ground 
presented a lively appearance. Round the chief hut 
or tienda lounged dirty* men in parti-colored scrapes 
and round-crowned straw hats, smoking, drinking, and 
betting at monte. Most of these were either on their 
way to, or had lately returned from, the mines. 

Walk Kearney street at night from California 
street to the Plaza. The shops are all closed, all but 
the saloons, mostly attended by a French or Spanish 
woman, and Cheap John auction stores, whose cries 
in husky voice and bad breath strive to roar above 
the jingling bells, before each door, where every one 
tries to ring down his neighbor. Passing along you 
step aside to avoid some reeling drunkard running 
into you, and as you approacli the plaza, the blazing 
light from the thickly planted saloons glows in the 
thick, murky air without, and strains of mingled music 
from different bands fall upon the ear. Pouring in 
and out of temples dedicated to Bacchus and to For- 
tuna, are crowds of people of every hue, and tongue, 
and character under heaven. 

Building in the autumn of 1853 was active, and the 
structures were of a much more durable character 
than was the custom to rear hitherto. Most of the 


houses for business purposes, both in the cities and in 
county towns, and mining camps, were of brick, not 
high but well built. In San Francisco even private 
dwellings were many of them of brick, but owing to 
the rains of winter and the fogs of summer brick resi- 
dences were never popular. A few years later, after 
having thoroughly tested them, no one built dwellings 
of brick ; there are now wooden dwellings in San 
Francisco which cost the owners to build $300,000, 
and not a single fine residence of brick or stone can 
be found in the city. It is not the cold or dampness, 
for brick buildings can be made as warm and dry as 
frame, though this climate does not require very warm 
houses. San Franciscans do not care to have their 
houses too warm ; nor with all the fogs and rains is it 
considered a very damp climate. The fear of earth- 
quakes at one time exercised the strongest influence 
against brick dwellings; this, while there was no ex- 
isting necessity for them, and they were in addition 
more costly, and plainer, with fewer facilities for elab- 
orate ornamentation which characterizes modern pri- 
vate houses in this country, caused a prejudice against 
them to spring up, and the fashion for frame houses 
was formed, which still remains. At one time, how- 
ever, there was quite a movement in the direction of 
brick dwellings of a plain but comfortable character, 
some of which may yet be seen at North Beach, 
South Park, and scattered at intermediate points. 
Montgomery Block, by Halleck, Peachy, and Billings 
was the largest building of the season. 

" I can well remember," says William Van Voor- 
hies, in an address before the California Pioneers, on 
the 9th of September, 1853, "and I am not by many 
years one of the 'oldest inhabitants,' when the bay 
of San Francisco afforded ample room and verge 
enough for the easy and unobstructed passage of the 
largest class mail steamers anywhere between Clark 
and Rincon points ; when one could make one's way 
from the summit of Telegraph hill to the old Parker 


house by winding down its bare sides, now Broadway 
and Pacific streets, and leaping tlie slougli, now Jack- 
son street, wading tlirougli tlie bay, now Montgomery 
street, up a sand bank, now Wasliington street, to an 
open space, now Kearney street and the Plaza, thence 
fifty paces soutli to the point of destination. I can 
well remember, also, when an unobtrusive casa, com- 
pared with the immense structures which now rise 
heavenward here and there at magnificent distances, 
was all that, in the way of internal, or for that mat- 
ter, external improvements, met the eye; when the 
Parker house, the old Portsmouth house, the United 
States hotel, Howard's store, the venerable adobe on 
the Plaza, then a custom-house, afterwards a broker's 
shop, and now no more, with one or two other shan- 
ties, looked to us immigrants of '49 like palaces; when 
scraped natives chased the wild bullock over the sur- 
rounding hills, satisfying a lean lank traffic, not com- 
merce, with the offering of a hide or horn; when a 
ChineFe was a lusus naturx, and a woman on the 
street — which was an imaginary line drawn in red and 
blue ink on paste-board — an absolute and unmitigated 

The pile-driver, both the man and the machine, was 
an institution of San Francisco's babyhood. Without 
the driving of piles, the water-lots of the cove could 
not be reclaimed, and without their reclamation own- 
ership was of little avail. The manner of it was in 
this wise : from one end of a lumbering scow rose, 
high in the air, two perpendicular beams, between 
which played a large lump of iron. A primitive steam- 
engine, standing back of the upright beams, drove the 
machinery. On or near the spot destined to be re- 
claimed floated hundreds of piles, that is, young trees, 
from twelve to eighteen inches in diameter, cut thirty 
or forty feet in length, carefully trimmed and sharp- 
ened at one end. With its claws, which were attached 
to the end of a chain, the machine seized one of these 
floating logs near the large end, and with a wheezing 


rattle lifted it up, planted the point in the proper 
place, bringing the large end under range of the iron 
block or hammer, which was lifted up and dropped 
upon it in successive blows. 

The sorriest of all sink-holes was the old city hall. 
Originally the Jenny Lind theatre, which proved to be a 
bad speculation, it was by potent, grave, and reverend 
city fathers, for a proper consideration of tlieir pockets 
by the seller, converted into a municipal building. 
The price paid was $200,000, to which must be added 
$40,000 for alterations. It was a place that few re- 
spectable persons would carg to enter except as driven 
there by necessity. It was connected with everything 
unhappy, unholy. The basement was a vault filled 
with drunkards, vagabonds, thieves, with the usual 
attendants on the fraternity. On the first floor were 
the municipal offices, the mayor's court-n^om being 
the most sickening place of all. Up one flight were 
the rooms of tlie city council, the city treasurer's office, 
and the district court chambers. In the third floor 
were more offices. Subsequently were added to the 
main edifice the old gambling shops on either side, of 
one of which was made the hall of records, and of the 
other, offices. 

A motley crowd was ever thronging the streets; 
the tatooed islander, the solemn Chinaman, and the 
slovenly Chilian mingled with the more decided wliite 
and black from Europe and Africa. A mighty talis- 
man had transformed a wilderness into a place of busy 
industry, a barren peninsula into a blooming city ; and 
the same subtle influence was still at work, blending 
national antipathies with kindly spmpathies, and har- 
monizing the antagonistic elements of this strange 
brotherhood. Blessed be trold when it can be broucrht 

o o 

to such uses? 

Thus rapidly was an orderly, intelligent population 
replacing the hurrvin<j^ gold -seekers. Those who now 
purposed to make California their home, were resolved 
that the scum from eastern and European cities, and 


the convicts from the British penal colonies, should 
not be permitted to mar the fair prospects of the 
state, which sentiment led to popular tribunals, des- 
cribed in another volume. 

Hundreds of Micawbers were always waiting for 
something, anything, to come along — waiting about 
the post-office, custom-house, and other federal and 
municipal free-soup houses ; standing in auction rooms, 
and strolling down Long Wharf 

The country was filled with would-be great men — 
men who measured the greatness of their own worth 
by the fancied littleness* of their neighbor. Every 
bosom beat high with aspirations. 

I have said that in the absence of old-time associa- 
tions, some were disposed to be lonely at times, to the 
damage of their morals. While this was true, it was 
likewise true that, although in a strange land, isolated, 
without friends or female companions, exposed to 
temptations, reverses and hardships, the 'forty-niner 
found much in the form of a substitute for ennui. 
There was an indescribable stimulant in the business 
atmosphere, in mingling with men, not unlike that so 
often glorified in the physical, w^hich chased away lone- 
liness, generated excitement, stripped time of its mo- 
notony, and glued the heart of the adventurer forever 
to the soil 

A German editor of San Francisco is responsible 
for the following, which he tells for a true story: 
One day a German was leisurely riding along Sansome 
street, near Sacramento, when he heard a pistol shot 
behind him, heard the whizzing of a ball, and felt it 
strike his hat. Turning about he saw a man with a 
revolver in his hand, and taking off his hat he found 
a bullet hole in it. ''Did you shoot at me ?" he asked. 
''Yes," replied the other, "that is my horse; it was 
stolen from me a short time ago." "You must be 
mistaken," said the German, "I have owned this 
horse for three years." "Well," exclaimed the other, 
" now that I come to look at it, I believe I am mis- 

PLAY-GOma. 267 

taken. Excuse me, sir; won't you take a drink?" 
The rider dismounted, tied his horse, and the two 
found a drinking-saloon near by. Entering it they 
called for their respective beverages, talked the afiair 
over in a cool common-place manner, and parted 

Doctor Ver Mehr gives to C. V. Gillespie the credit 
of having the only carriage in San Francisco in Sep- 
tember 1849. Better still, the worthy doctor gives 
him the credit of taking him and his family up in it 
when he landed on the beach at Montgomery street, 
after a seven months' voyage round Cape Horn. A 
lady in a carriage was then no common sight. Pass- 
ing up Washington street on their way to the residence 
of Frank Ward, corner of Stockton and Green streets, 
the new-comers met a group of Frenchmen straggling 
along the uneven ground composing the sidewalk, 
when one of them, pointing to the plaza, then a sandy 
lot, called out to his comrades, **Voila, messieurs, la 
place royale !" Just then they spied the carriage with 
its fair freight, when in an instant off went their hats, 
and all shouted simultaneously, "Vivent les dames!" 

Many theatres and other places of amusement 
sprang up, in which the performance and attendance 
were both good. The stock companies were far above 
the average in Europe and the east. In California, 
poor acting, like poor preaching, or poor horse-racing, 
did not pay ; it required more than ordinary ability 
among the performers to hold in their seats for two 
or three hours their discriminating and restless audi- 
ence. Somewhat expensive it was for the young mer- 
chant or salaried clerk, but what were they to do after 
work, with no home and no congenial female society? 
Almost anything was better than loitering about 
gambling saloons, or other dens of vice, with which 
the town was filled, and which it was difficult always 
to escape. 

So it was that Californians were great pi ay -goers, 
and in their gatherings might be seen as varied a 


crowd as ever gathered in the foreigners' gallery of 
an Athenian theatre in the days of Euripides. An 
English sailor might be seated beside a Boston mer- 
chant ; a hybrid — half Aztec, half Spaniard, beside a 
French nobleman; a Sweedish consul beside an 
Italian fisherman ; farmers, mechanics, and miners all 
too-ether. Among the men and women of the stage 
time throws a glamour which softens their ruder 
parts, and heightens the cliarm all feel in their tragic 
and comic fictions. 

The effect of the drama on California was most 
beneficial. The craving for excitement had become 
to the people a second nature. Business gave the 
mind employment during the day, but at night recrea- 
tion seemed necessary. In the absence of home and 
social ties, the gaming-table and the glittering saloons 
of prostitution were too often the resort of men too 
good for such places ; but when theatrical performances 
of the better sort were offered, there was a marked 
decline in the patronage of the gaming-table and 
liquor saloons. The tastes of the community were 
not so low as circumstances had hitherto made them 
appear. As amusements of a higher order were intro- 
duced, those of the baser sort lost their charm. As 
early as 1851 there was scarcely a mining town of a 
thousand inhabitants without its theatre. 

To the homeless, houseless wanderer the theatre 
was a blessing. And notwithstanding all that has 
been said of San Francisco looseness and immorality, 
there never was a time when a licentious drama was 
encouraged, or even tolerated. Far above the average 
theatre-goer of New York, London, and Paris, in 
refined taste and appreciation were those of San 

Lovers of tragedy who attended the Jenny Lind 
on the night of the 14th of January 1851 to witness 
Flzarro, were regaled with a recital of real life which 
equalled anything they might have seen upon the 
stage. It appears that Mrs Hambleton, who was to. 


have acted a part that night, did not live in harmony 
with her husband, but found the society of Mr Coad, 
a member of the same company, more congeniaL 
Matters had not proceeded far when Mr Hambleton 
brought on the climax in a storm of passion. Con- 
fronting the lovers, who were guiltless of any crimi- 
nality, he made the man promise to quit the country 
instantly. The woman seeing all hope of happiness 
had gone, took poison and died ; whereat Coad also 
took poison and attempted to die, but could not. 
There was no performance at the Jenny Lind that 

Jeems Pipes to the San Francisco Evening Picayune 
writes from Sacramento the 21st of August 1850: — 
^' To dessippate my retched sensay shuns I go to the 
M street Pasificke Theatre; by the way, one of the 
most perfekt speciments of arkitekshure in the wurld. 
The band led by Mons Bona were a playin a Jenny 
Lind poker, and the ordience, graced by sum interest- 
ing phemales, wos quite large, orderly, and respekta- 
bel. The play was ' Honey Moon,' Mr and Mrs 
Thorne, from Chatham Theatre, the principal attrak- 
shun. Six months ago upon the same spot wos I 
sittin on a loof, wittlintr and nuthino; to see but 
stumps, and treas, and a few dirty tents — so much 
for the go-ahedativencss of Amerikans." 

The signals on Telegraph hill became so many 
and so intricate, and withal were so important to anx- 
iously gazing expectants, that an enterprising lithog- 
rapher conceived the idea of putthig them on a chart 
_^where all could see and learn them. One night short- 
ly after tlie publication of this chart, a newsboy sat in 
the top loft of the theatre, cracking peanuts, and criti- 
cising the sons and daughters of Thespis, as they 
strutted their brief parts before him. Presently one 
rushed upon the stage with arms extended at right 
angles with his body, and exclaimed, *' What means 
this my lord ?" The boy who not only knew well the 
chart, but whose fancy was then revelling in the an- 


ticipated profits of his paper, cried out,' 'Side-wheel 
steamer!" The house, and the actor's arms, came 
down simultaneously. A story is like-wise told of a 
newly arrived emigrant across the plains, who, in ap- 
plying this chart to the interpretation of the signals, 
mistook a windmill which stood near by for the arms 
of the telegraph, and counthig up the fans concluded 
that a fleet of clippers was coming in. 

Twice or thrice a month the mail steamers, connect- 
incr San Francisco with New York by way of Panamd, 
departed and arrived. Both were peculiar and nota- 
ble occasions. It is difficult for one who has not lived 
it through to realize with what nervous pulsations 
these vessels were watched as they came and went. 
California was then well-nigh out of the world, be- 
yond the pale of civilization, of sabbath and home in- 
fluence, of all the sweet memories and amenities that 
make life endurable. Her people were voluntary 
exiles, cut ofl* from friends and all congenial society, 
doomed for a period to a life of self-abnegation and 
hard labor, and these days of steamer arrivals and 
departures were as links in the life-chain that was to 
bind the future to the past. The present went for 
nothing, or worse than nothing, perhaps ; for it might 
be a nightmare, a horrible dream, a something to be 
blotted from the memory as soon as ended. When 
the steamer came in with passengers from home — the 
whole eastern seaboard, and west to the Missouri river, 
was then hume to the expatriated of California — with 
perhaps friends on board, but above all with letters, 
what a flood of tender recollection rushed in upon the 
soul ! 

Therefore when the signal flag was unfurled, and 
the wind -mill looking indicator on telegraph hill 
stretched forth its long ungainly wooden arms and told 
the town of a steamer outside, a thrill went through 
the heart like that which Gabriel's trumpet sends 
into the fleshless bones of the dead. Some rushed 


to the hills; others mounted horses, and riding to the 
cliff, watched the little cloud of smoke under the sky- 
line thicken and blacken ; watched the vessel emerge 
as first the smoke-stack and spars, and then the hull 
appeared above the horizon ; watched the little speck 
grow into a great leviathan, as lazily — oh I how lazily 
as it appeared to those on shore as well as those on 
board — it ploughed the sea and entered the Golden 
Gate ; then returning, watched the little boats as they 
put out from shore to board the monster — the quar- 
antine officer's boat, perhaps, with the yellow flag, the 
Merchant's Exchange boat, and the express compa- 
nies' boats; watched the white smoke from the 
steamer's gun curl up and float away in clouds, w^hile 
the report reverberating through the streets roused 
the more abstracted occupants from their soul-absorb- 
ing work. 

Then a stream of hacks, and wagons, and drays, 
and men on foot, hotel-runners, working-men, busi- 
ness-men, and loafers, set in toward the w^liarf 
Proudly the great ship sweeps round tlie bay to the 
city front, as if conscious of the admiring gaze of the 
multitude; leisurely, and with majestic dignity, as if 
disdaining to make an exhibition of her strength. 
Now she stops her wheels, and yawns, and blows, and 
stretches her neck, after her fortnight's journey ; then 
as she drops into her berth, the crowds on ship and 
shore begin their noisy jests and salutations. Hearts 
are there heavy with anxiety, waiting for tidings it 
may be which will affect their entire future ; but on 
that sea of upturned faces you find no lovvering clouds; 
the rippling waves are wreathed in smiles, and the 
stronger surges break into hilarity and badinage. 
Some are there to meet their friends, others from 
curiosity ; some have climbed from small boats up the 
side of the vessel while she was approaching the 
wharf; others stand on the tops of piers, and when the 
ship is within a few feet leap on to the deck, where tkere 


is a scene of embracing, kissing, laughing, and crying, 
impossible to describe. 

The passengers land and make their way to the ho- 
tels, when they luxuriate in a comfortable room, bath, 
and a table from which food once more seems palata- 
ble ; clothes are taken from the trunk and put on, the 
creases in which mark the wearer as a new comer. 
Meanwhile lines begin to form at the post-office win- 
dows, although it may be twelve or twenty hours be- 
fore the mails are ready for delivery. Thither con- 
gregate the anxiously expectant, the husband and 
father hungry for news from home, the lover with 
soft eyes and flushed cheek and tingling nerves, and 
in whose breast angels and imps alternately beat their 
tatoo as he waits to learn his fate ; the rough miner, 
the merchant's clerk, the mechanic. Ah I never were 
letters so longed for or so prized. Alone in that mot- 
Icy" crowd, for months without one word from home, 
the heart steeled to the world around them, deadened 
in that social Sahara, here was the only solace for 
heart-sickness, the only sustenance the soul would 
have perhaps for months to come. 

Rapidly the lines lengthen, until perhaps five hun- 
dred persons are gathered there, having the appearance 
at a distance of a mob, but with the utmost order and 
regularity, each new-comer taking his place behind 
the last before him. There is no respect of persons, 
no crowding or jostling ; any attempt at unfairness is 
speedily put down by the omnipotent majority. The 
ragamuffin, who everyone knew never wrote or re- 
ceived a letter in his life, might take his stand beside 
the millionaire, and sell his place as opportunity offered, 
when near the window, to some one whose time was 
more valuable than money, which he frequently did 
for five, or ten, or twenty dollars. Some bring their 
stools and while away the time reading, smoking, and 
chewing. Eastern papers are sold by the newsboys, 
peripatetic cafes and liquor saloons walk about on 
French legs, and hand-cart hotels are rolled along the 


lines dispensing the ordinary edibles of the table. 
Finally, after long and tiresome waiting, the office win- 
dow is opened and the line moves forward at the rate 
of a step in about three minutes. 

Standing in those lines through hours that seem like 
ages, outwardly jocund, but inwardly bleeding, the 
cursings and ribald jests that fall upon the ear mingling 
discordantly with the purest strains of human affections 
awakened by tender thoughts and heart-longings, a 
rare opportunity offers us to see of what stuff these 
men are made. They are rough-looking fellows, most 
of them, even if our post-office be located in San Fran- 
cisco. Many of them fossil- featured with bronze 
complexion, shaggy-haired and unshaven, have torn 
shirts and ragged pantaloons; while their heavy boots 
and slouched hats are so worn and full of holes as 
scarcely to hold together. Are they not what they 
seem ? Does their aspect in any way belie them ; or 
see we here men of sovereign and elastic natures so 
disguised that even their mothers would not know 
them ? 

Look into their eyes as you go along the line and 
tell me if you discovered much that you dare trifle 
with ; look under the unkempt hair and tell me if you 
find no intellect, and through the worn vestures and 
tough, storm-beaten flesh-coverings down into the 
heart whence ebb and flow the issues of life and tell 
me if you see there no pleasing pictures, no gardens 
or palaces where truth and loveliness sit enshrined. 
If you would know somewhat of them, regard them 
attentively as they receive and read their letters ; for 
he who can open a letter from the home he has not 
heard from for months without a flush or quickened 
pulse is either a very courageous or a very callous 
man. This letter-opening at very wide intervals is a 
sort of gambling with fate, in which hope not unfre- 
quently stakes happiness against fearful odds. 

On nearintr the window the face lenothens and looks 
anxious. The name is given, and the response comes 

Cal. Int. Poc. 18 


''Nothing, sir." **Will you please look again says 
the disappointed applicant "I came round Cape 
Horn ; they were to send me letters after I had been 
out a month and it is now six months since I haV3 
heard a word." "I told you, sir, there is nothing 
here for you ; the next." This time a letter is forth- 
coming. Stepping aside, with trembling hand the 
recipient tears it open and begins to read. Mark the 
pallor that shortly overspreads the countenance, the 
stiffening of the muscles of the face, tlie compression 
of the livid lip, the wave of agony that mantles the 
features. In a moment the blood which from every 
part with one accord rushed to the lieart to break ifc, 
returns, but you can see as the man moves off that 
he is stricken as with a knife-stab, without the mut- 
tered '' Oh God, she is dead !" The next in line may 
be as frantic in his joy as the other was desolate in 
his sorrow. All unconscious of his surroundings, ho 
laughs aloud, kisses the precious missive, and skips 
and dances like a delighted school girl. 

There stands one, a man of middle age, noble look- 
ing and apparently of decided character, intently 
perusing some closely written pages. He was and 
yet is honored by his friends at the east, who say if 
one only escape with honor it is he. Of the church 
he was a trusted member, in his family an adored 
husband and father. So great was his own inward 
sense of strength and right intention that he scorned 
the idea of demeaning himself, and gave it scarcely a 
thought. But like every member of the race, he 
knew nothing of himself until he was tried. Cali- 
fornia opened his eyes, as thousands of others have 
been opened, and showed him a nature wholly differ- 
ent from what he supposed himself possessed of. 
Instead of high religious sentiments and moral purity 
hitherto enjoyed, he finds himself in the society of 
harlots, a gambler, an unbeliever. Yet as he reads 
that letter, written by a tender loving wife whose 
faith and trust in him the whole world shall not shake, 


telling him of her deep abiding love, of her patient 
waitings and watchings, of her deeds by day and her 
dreams by night, of the hopes and plans that await 
his dear return ; telling of his children one by one, 
how they have grown in goodness and lovehness, how 
the little one, whom he has never seen, has learned to 
lisp its father's name in its evening prayer — as ho 
reads the letter which thus so vividly recalls the sweet 
and hallowed past, you may mark the twitching of 
the muscles in liis face, the tears trickling down his 
cheeks, and the bosom swelling with emotion. Going 
to his room he reads and reads again the letter, vows 
reformation ; but over this oasis of his desert life the 
sands quickly blow, and he soon goes on the old licen- 
tious way again. 

Steamer-days, the day befoi*e the sailing of the 
steamer for the east, were the ^reat tickincrs in social 
and conunercial time. Bills were made to fall due on 
those days, letters must be written on that day, and 
collections and remittances made. Passengers must 
get ready, and if not done before, they must secure 
their tickets. They were feverish, fidgety days. 
From morning till night collection clerks with a pack- 
aoe of bills in one hand, and the mouth of a canvas 
coin-bao; slun<x over the shoulder in the other, were 
rushing about the streets, and seldom was the office 
lamp extinguished before twelve or two o'clock. 

On the mornino: of the sailincr of the steamer, all 
work having been finished the day or evening previous, 
passengers go on board, attended by their friends to 
see them ofi**. The idle and the curious of every caste 
and calibre likewise crowd the wharf and decks for an 
hour or two before the departure. Trunks are taken 
on board; the passengers, laden with packages of 
fruit, books, bottles, and boxes, find their respective 
places. In the cabin, the black bottle is frequently 
passed around, and champagne made to flow freely. 
The forward part of the ship is filled with miners, go- 
ing home with all the prestige of travel and adventure 


in strange lands. It is a matter of pride with many 
to be seen by their friends in their mining costume ; 
so the bushy head and long beard are protected with 
care, and every hole in the battered hat, every patch 
in the woollen shirt, every dirt-stain on the greasy 
pantaloons, are regarded with hallowed affection. Thus 
appearing in his native village, witli hints suggestive 
of secreted gold-dust, and inuendoes which seemed 
to say, " I could tell you a thing or two if I liked," 
''Perhaps John Robinson came back without his pile, 
and perhaps he didn't," the returned Californian is the 
liero of the hour. 

It was a common remark that more money went 
east in the steerage than in the cabin. Some carried 
buckskin bags of dust in their pockets, others in belts 
under their shirts, and guarded by an ominous-looking 
navy revolver. Experience had made many shy of 
entrusting their hard earnings to banks and express 
companies, and freight on gold was high. Sometimes 
a party of two or three would put their fortunes in a 
carpet-bag, ten or twenty thousand dollars' worth of 
gold-dust, alternately guarding it, and never leaving 
it un watched for a sincrle instant durinor the whole 
voyage from San Francisco to New York, thereby 
saving in exchange the price of passage for each of 
them. Notwithstanding all their care, many return- 
ing miners were robbed by professional sharpers, who 
infested all the main avenues of travel, and followed 
their vocation regularly on the steamers between As- 
pinwall and New York. 

In the steerage also were many penniless persons, 
broken in health and spirits, going home to die. There 
were those, pusillanimous and disgusting individuals, 
eaten up of disease, already morally dead ; there were 
self-pitying unfortunates, whining and complaining, 
whom success never attends under any circumstances, 
and who never should have left their mothers' apron- 
strings; and there were those who Imd manfully 
fought the battle and been beaten. Faithfully and 


patiently these last had toiled and suffered, hope and 
fear alternating between fortune and disease, unwilling 
to give themselves the needed rest and care with 
wealth and happiness just within their grasp ; and so, 
with their thin pale faces, and sunken eyes, and hollow 
cheeks, they feebly drag themselves about with hope 
crushed, and this world forever lost to them. God 
grant that they may find some soft hand and sym- 
pathizing heart to smooth their dying days I 

The periodicit}^ of this business phenomena contrib- 
uted largely toward a fitful and spasmodic progress. 
On these occasions the past and future seemed to 
mingle with the present, and hope, regret, and dogged 
determination filled the heart with longings indescrib- 
able. Likewise the custom of merchants, and indeed 
of all classes, of making frequent or occasional trips t(x 
the east, for the purpose of seeing their friends, at- 
tending to business, marrying, or bringing out a famih% 
exercised a strong influence upon the development of 
character in California. Even miners, in some in- 
stances, would make their periodical migrations, spend- 
ing a season, as they called it, in the mines, and then 
a period of rest and pleasure at home. 

Tom suddenly from the daily monotonous struggle, 
confined for twenty or thirty consecutive days within 
the narrow limits of a steamship, there was nothing 
to be done but to sit down and think, or read, or 
talk; and this meditation, or series of meditations, 
changed the whole course of many a life. Thoughts 
and aspirations then arose, which, but for this isolation 
from business, never would have been conceived ; 
looking out upon the sea, time and eternity seemed to 
meet on the distant horizon, the windows of the soul 
were opened, and God and nature admitted to a closer 
communion; the ideal of manhood was elevated, a 
taste for travel and improvement was engendered, 
fancy was set free, the mind broadened, and the whole 
nature of the man enlarged under these beneficent 


Letters from home I blessed be letters I Though 
they come travel-stained from a voyage of seven 
thousand miles, across two oceans and a continent, 
they are as fresh with old associations, as fragrant 
with sweet reminiscences as if penned but yesterday. 
How like angels' visits they come at steamer intervals, 
and what a spell their presence casts, freighted as they 
are with love and kind greetings. Many a time have 
I sat at my table, far into the night, opening one 
after another from a pile of business correspondence 
before me, having first selected and placed unopened 
on one side, yet not so far away but that my hungry 
eye could rest on them, all that breathed of tender 
memories and pure affection, resolutely holding them 
there, the best for the last. There they lay filling 
the room as with a spiritual attendance, throwing 
their magic influence into every fibre of my being, and 
dimming with moisture the eyes that would not cease 
to look on them. Then with what tremulously sweet 
and bitter emotions T would take them up and break- 
ing the seals, let into my fluttering heart the soothing 
stream of mellow memories, drank once more from 
the fountains of my youth, and bathed my weary soul 
in the sacred atmosphere of home. Sweet silent 
messages, whose witching presence can so wean our 
sordid vision from the seducing mirage of glittering 
dust I 

An impecunious discouraged young man digging 
at Columbia, who had found his friends at home de- 
linquent in writing to him, determined to bring a re- 
sponse if it lay in the power of ink and goose-quill. 
Accordingly he seated himself and wrote three or four 
old gossips asking the price of land, and stock, what 
advantageous investments offered, what a fine farm of 
two or three hundred acres could be purchased for — 
since which time during his stay in California there 
was not a mail but brought him letters. 

The new post-office building, now in the autumn of 
1852 fronting on the plaza, and extending from Clay 


to Commercial streets, was then considered a grand 
affair. Colonel Moore was the postmaster. There 
was an entrance at both ends, and a passage from 
street to street. The French, the women, and the 
editors each had a part assigned exclusively to them. 
The general delivery extended the whole length of 
the building, but the lines formed on the arrival of 
the steamers led into and far up and dow^n the street. 
Probably never a post-office received letters in such 
a variety of languages. It was found necessary to em- 
ploy a Chinaman, and clerks who understood Russian, 
French, German, Spanish, and Italian, besides which 
there were letters from Sweden, Norway, Poland, the 
continentsof Asia and Africa, and the islands of the Pa- 
cific, The average number of letters then received by 
the San Francisco post-office on the arrival of each 
steamer, was sixty thousand, and the average number 
sent away by each steamer, fifty thousand — leaving 
twice a month ten thousand mianswered letters, ten 
thousand heart-aching expectants perj^etually doomed 
to disappointment. 

The following, evidently from the pen of Mr Ewer, 
I find in the Sunday Disimtch of the 17th of August, 
1851. ''Another vestige gone. The old land-marks 
in San Francisco are fast passing aw^ay. The fires 
which have so frequently swept over our city have 
obliterated many, and the march of improvement is 
covering the rest, so that in a short time nothing will 
remain to show how San Francisco stood when the 
tide of immigration first began to flow upon her shores. 
The Old Adobe, the City Hotel, the Bee Hive, are 
among the things that were, while the Niantic and 
the Apollo — evidences of the enterprise of a later date 
— have disappeared, and in their places stand large 
warehouses built on solid earth. One of the last 
land-marks is now about being removed — the boat- 
stairs, at what used to be the extremity of Long 
Wharf The steam paddy has deposited its sand all 
along the old wharf line, and the stairs are rapidly 


bein<>- covered. Another week will put them out of 

"It is melancholy to see these old, well-known 
relics disappearing from our midst. How many a 
hopeful man has landed on those stairs, whose bones 
lie bleaching on the plains or in the ravines of the in- 
hospitable Sierra! How many a sanguine youth, the 
joy and hope of a loving family, lias bounded up them, 
buoyant with hopes never desthied to be realized I 
Great hearts have passed those steps ; honest hearts, 
big with determination to win a fortune in this golden 
land, not for themselves, but for those whom they 
loved better than life. Alas 1 many such are broken 
with grief ere this. 

"We well remember the scenes w^hich used to be 
enacted on those steps in olden times, at the arrival 
of the monthly steamer. The crowd of emigrants 
gazing in astonishment at everything they saw ; the 
few females who did arrive shrinking in terror from 
the red-shirted men, bearded like pards, whom they 
saw around them; the eager and heated boatmen, 
pushing, tugging, and swearing, in order to get first 
to the steps; the news-venders, with their dollar 
Heralds and Tribunes! Ah! those were fine old times, 
after all. 

"But think of the treasure which has gone down 
those steps! The millions and millions of dollars, 
when the steamers were about to leave! Rough, 
plain, and unfurnished as they were, none have ever 
borne one half the treasure which has passed down 
them unnoticed. They have been the funnel through 
which all the gold of California has been poured upon 
the world. 

''A fairer morning never rose on earth. The clear 
blue sky hung above, and the pure atmosphere, 
through which the mountains twenty miles away 
could be traced to their every furrow, enveloped the 
city when she arrived, a girl of eighteen summers, as 
beautiful as the day itself, clad in her bridal robes. 


She had been married that morning on the steamer, 
and buoyant with life, and hope, and gladness, she 
passed up those steps, followed by a train in which 
could be seen all the beauty and talent of the city. 
But those heartless old stairs never looked a whit the 
brighter for all the beauty and all the worth that 
trod them. 

"Again: the rain came down in torrents ; the night 
was of that pitchy darkness which is only known in 
climates such as this. The wind in gusts came slash- 
inu' round the corners, drivinof the torrent like waves 
aoainst the houses, when a man came crawlinir down 
those steps. He sat there for an hour. The rain 
poured down on his uncovered head, but he heeded it 
not ; the wind tore open his ragged clothes, and wrest- 
led with him, but he felt it not. With his face buried 
in his hands, he thouo^ht of the mother he had loved 
so tenderly, and the sister whom he had cherished; 
and of her, dearer far than either, to win whose hand 
he had first ventured to these shores. Were they 
happy? Were they even alive? He knew not, but 
he knew that he wanted bread, and had it not; and 
he knew that though those at home were poor, he 
could not reach them to rescue or suffer with them. 
The cold wind and the roaring rain beat on an hour 
more, and his seat was vacant I He had rushed into 
darkness, and the wave which closed over his head 
showed him no more pity than did those heartless old 
stairs which had witnessed the struggle of his soul! 

" Let them go I Cover them up — pile on the sand I 
They have had too much to do with the misery of 
the world to be worth saving. What good has all 
the gold done which passed down them? Perhaps 
none. How many has it made happy ? Perhaps not 
one. Pile on the sand I " 

The winter of 1849-50 was very rainy, and the 
streets, devoid even of sidewalks, were in a horrible 
state. Mud and filth from six inches to six feet deep 
lay on all the principal thoroughfares, which one 


might wade or swim according to depth and consist- 
ence. But by the winter following some of the more 
central streets were planked, and remembering their 
former abasement horses and drivers became frisky as 
the animals' feet clattered upon the firm thorouglifare, 
and there were loud complaints against street-racing. 
Not only equestrians dashed their horses up and down 
the crowded streets at unlawful speed, but the buggies, 
carriages, and even carts drove off at furious rates. 
It was a difficult country for either animals or men 
to keep quiet in. 

Very different was the aspect presented by Califor- 
nia street in 1853 from that of 1873 after the banks, in- 
surance buildings, and Merchant's Exchange had been 
erected. At the former date the planked street was 
perforated with holes of various sizes and depths, 
some of dimensions sufficient to swallow a horse and 
cart, others aspiring to nothing larger than a man's 
leg. The occupants of the street, however, did not 
seem to take the matter much to heart. Many 
of the apertures were fenced in or covered and labelled. 
Over one was drawn a large picture, a caricature of 
the vicinity, representing the street with the surround- 
ing buildings, and a horse and dray just disappearing 
through one of the openings, while another quietly 
stands by looking on. On the boards which guarded 
the way were placards and divers inscriptions, such 
as, "Head of navigation; no bottom." "Horse and 
dray lost; look out for the soundings." "Storage 
wanted; inquire below." "Squatters attention! Di- 
ver's ranch." "Office to let in the basement; Wil- 
liam Diver, agent." "Good fishing for teal," and 
others of like import. 

The winter of 1849 bore hard upon both merchants 
and gold-diggers. The season was very wet; the 
people were unfamiliar with the climate, and not well 
provided with shelter or clothing. There was the 
half-starved miner in his board house or cabin, the 
merchant shivering in his tent. 


During the winter of 1852-3, the miners of the 
lower portion of the valley of California, then sub- 
merged, were driven into the cities. Most of them 
were destitute; others had a little bag of hard- 
earned gold-dust; men unaccustomed to the ways of 
large cities fell victims to the sleight-of-hand sharks 
of Long Wharf; being either inveigled under some 
pretext into a low den, and there robbed, or induced 
to bet on some sure thing, with the usual result of 
the dust changing hands The sad spectacle was then 
presented in San Francisco of hundreds of men and 
some women actually starving for food; men and 
women tenderly reared, honest, intelligent, educated, 
without money, without work, without friends; and 
too proud to let their necessities be known. Many 
an act of kind, unrecorded charity was then done by 
strangers as well as friends, — unrecorded here, but 
written of a surety in the angel's book of remem- 

Strange how custom and tradition impregnate the 
blood and retain their hold upon their victims for 
generations after their death I The time was when a 
bull-fight was an imposing spectacle; when royalty 
graced the arena, and the proudest nobles and fairest 
daughters of Castile cheered the performers; when the 
tows were powerful and severe, the jyicadores, clad like 
knights with all the appurtenances of chivalry and 
mounted on mettlesome caparisoned steeds, were 
the most dashing horsemen the world could 'find; 
when the banderilleros, in their lio^ht close-fittino^ cos- 
tume, assisted by the chulos, were the quickest and 
most agile of foot-fighters, and the matador with one 
thrust of his keen sword could stretch the foaming 
infuriated animal lifeless upon the ground. The car- 
cass of this pastime was raised occasionally by its 
adherents after the advent of the gold-seekers, but 
there was little of the pristine sport about it, the effort 
usually proving sadly abortive, a mere burlesque upon 
the ancient custom. The unhappy bull, faint with 


starvation and exhaustion, with tipped horns and ter- 
rified expression, was goaded into the arena, while 
brutal-looking tawdrily-attired horsemen on raw-boned 
Rosinantes, attended by ragged banderillos and chulos 
pricked courage with their steel weapons into the 
poor beast — which had all the sympathy of eveiy 
human witness — and then clumsily butchered it. 

Perambulating the streets of San Francisco on the 
23d of May, 1850, was a tall, raw boned man, in black 
skin and black clothes. His wooly head was sur- 
mounted by a white beaver with a broad blue band, 
and in his hand he carried a bell which served to fill 
breathing spaces with its parenthetical ringings. His 
demeanor was as grave as Mark Antony's when he 
mourned over Caesar's body ; his voice was as rich, 
his gesticulation as eflfective, though his harangue 
was not untinctured with a vein of burlesque. A 
dramatic black man, in black clothes, with a white 
hat bound with blue, and carrying a bell; and these 
were his words: — ''Look a-here, white folks, T'se a- 
gwine to gib you all fair notice dat de bull- fight what 
is a-gwine to be dis arternoon, ain't a-gwine to be till 
to-morrow at de same time, 'coz dey can't come it. 
Ting-a-ling-a-ling. 'Coz dey ain't got de bull by de 
horns. He ain't come to town yet, but is comin' fas' 
ever dey can fetch him along. So de bull-fight is a- 
gwine to come off to-morrow arternoon. Ting-a-ling- 
a-ling. An' arter dat a chicken fight. It's truth I'm 
a-tellin', gem'men. The bull what's agwine to fight 's 
one of de bulls what you read about. He's done been 
and killed nine men already, but he says he can't kill 
de tenf 'coz how he's too much for him. He's eight 
feet, am dis bull, an' jus' about sixteen feet long ef he 
knows hisself. His horns am done been jus' about 
six feet 'tween de tips, and de hair on his back am 
been grown up to de sky, an' de crows hab done gone 
an' made nests into it. An' I'm obliged to tell you 
dat de bull-fight is obliged to be postponded till to- 
morrow arternoon, when you mus' all come an' see 


dm splendid bull, sartin shore ; an' de chicken fight 
what's a-gwine to take place arter de bull-fight which 
am a-gwine to take place 'fore de chicken fight. Bof 
of 'em togeder has been obliged to be postponded till 
de next day, which am to-morrow arternoon in case 
it should be a fair day an' not rain." 

The plank road to the Mission was the boulevard 
of 1852-3, the first established public drive and public 
promenade in San Francisco. Winding among the 
sand-hills Prom Mission or Howard streets, the road 
then boasted its four-horse omnibus line and its two 
toll gates. On every pleasant day, from morning till 
night, it was thronged with men of fashion and women 
of pleasure, idlers, loafers, gamblers, babies with their 
mammas or nurses, making their several displays in 
their vehicles of divers descriptions, each after the bent 
of his own wise or foolish fancy. Along the road were 
vegetable and flower gardens, and some little white 
cottages were soon seen here and there nestling among 
the sand-hills. Here San Francisco took the air; 
hers was the resort at that time of San Francisco s 
best society. 

Another great promenade of the city about this 
time, or a little later, was Stockton street from Wash- 
ington street to Washington square. It was then 
but partially graded and planked, but on it were the 
handsome private residences and the principal churches. 
West of this the streets were for the most part in a 
state of nature, though many pretty cottages and 
some fine larger houses dotted the hillside. Dupont 
street, with its saloons and small shops, was a thronged 
and busy place. At night the gambling shops and 
stores were brilliantly lighted, and in the different sa- 
loons were women in great variety, Spanish, English, 
German, French, Kanaka, and Chinese. During the 
day it was the chief thoroughfare between the busi- 
ness portion of the town and the residences in the 
direction of North Beach. The custom house, city 


hall, post-office, the more gorgeous saloons, with cigar 
shops, fancy stores, and livery stables, were on Kearny 
street, the street of loafers, litigants, lawyers, officials, 
politicians, the idle and the employed, and also the 
street of fast riding, which in those days was more 
common than now. Montgomery street from the be- 
ginning was the Wall street of San Francisco, the 
street of bankers, brokers, gold-dust buyers, jewellers, 
book-stores, and newspaper offices, with a free sprink- 
ling of restaurants and drinking saloons. Below Mont- 
gomery street, on land reclaimed from the bay, were 
the large warehouses, wholesale stores, and auction 
houses. On San some street was the American thea- 
tre and several hotels. On Battery and Front streets 
were many brick buildings well stocked with goods. 
Davis street, built wholly on piles and the last opened, 
was the resort of seafaring men, and the shops mostly 
contained ships' supplies. To these and the intersect- 
ing streets from Jackson to California, with the ex- 
ceptions of the Clark point and iron manufactories of 
Happy valley, the business of San Francisco was 
chiefly confined — a small area, truly, when we consider 
the astonishing amount of traffic carried on within 
these limits. 

Wo is me for I am in trouble 1 was the one long 
continuous wail of San Francisco from birth till past 
babyhood. Born of disorder, corruption rankled in its 
blood. Colic and physic were its alternate compan- 
ions during infancy, and oftimes the remedy was ten- 
fold worse than the disease. Wealth untold was its 
heritage, but all of it was given, before she numbered 
six years as a city, for an enormous debt. This was her 
first trouble, vast property in her pueblo lands, and 
ravenous wolves to lap it up. Water in front and 
drifting sand-hills behind, the equaliznig or grading 
of which was a trouble. Fires were a trouble, and 
streets, and debt ; the hounds of '51 and the ballot-box 
stufFers of '56 were troubles. Yet withal the child 
grew and waxed fat. 


Like a thunder-clap dropped on San Francisco the in- 
telligence that Henry Meiggs had absconded. Honest 
Harry Meiggs 1 A defaulter, forger, swindler, impos- 
sible I A week ago he was the most popular man in 
California, his record was the cleanest, his reputation 
the most spotless. On Friday his failure for the sum 
of eight hundred thousand dollars was announced. 
On the Tuesday previous he had bought the bark 
American^ furnished and provisioned her in princely 
style, and the same night sailed with his family for 
*' ports in the Pacific," The journal of this, Sunday, 
morning, October 8, 1854, leads off with a long list of 
forged comptroller's warrants, together with others un- 
told, aggregating half a million or a million of dollars. 

John G. Meiggs, brother of honest Harry and 
newly elected comptroller, also sailed on the American 
for these veiled "ports in the Pacific." Why did he 
go away being likewise a popular and capable man 
and newly elected to office, unless it was that being 
cognizant of his brother's crimes he preferred flight to 
braving the disgrace ? Besides the spurious warrants, 
merchants soon found their forged notes in circulation, 
and these could easily be traced to their source. 
Honest Harry must be the rogue I Then a thousand 
fingers pointed that way, bony, bloodless fingers, and 
plump, fat fingers, digits horny with hard labor, be- 
longing to washerwomen, and working men, and the 
diamond digits of merchants, bankers, and frail fair 
ones. Few escaped the fangs of Harry, for he was 
clever, he was popular, and above all he was honest. 
So they, his victims, loved to call him Honest Harry 
Meiggs. Now the community cursed him. Con- 
gregating upon the street corners, men told their 
losses and swore if they could catch him they would 
hang him Even now in the opinion of Sweeny and 
Baugh the bark American is becalmed outside, only 
twenty miles southwestward ofi* the heads, and Cap- 
tain Alden with the steamer ActivCy is going to sweep 
the coast for sixty miles in both directions. Now 


Harry, quickl}^ and vehemently say your prayers so 
that hell may hear, for if the north wind fails you, 
you lose your head and the South American govern- 
ments a great railway financier. Alas I the Active 
breaks down and the swindler escapes. 

A magnificent audacity characterized all the tran- 
sactions of this the prince of California swindlers, or 
as his victims put it, he "played it in fine on 'em." 
Thirty-three thousand dollars of Wm Neeley Thompson 
and Go's forged notes were endorsed by Henry Meiggs 
two and a half months prior to his departure. Stock 
of the California Lumber Company, of which he was 
president, was forged to a large amount — some said 
half a million. It was his custom invariably to give 
his forged paper as collaterals to moneyed men who 
would lock them up and make no attempt to realize 
on them ; or he would deposit it in some bank, take a 
certificate to that eiFect, and obtain the money on the 
certificate. In this way his guilt was kept secret up 
to the last moment. 

When the captain of the American was questioned 
why he was fitting up his boat so sumptuously and 
whither he was bound, he replied, that the vessel had 
been purchased by two wealthy gamblers, who in- 
tended a trip of pleasure and adventure on the Pa- 
cific, first to Puget Sound and then to Australia. In 
leaving the city with his family Meiggs took a car- 
riage and said he was going to San Mateo; but stop- 
ping at Mission Point on the bay, he embarked in a 
small boat for his vessel, which was lying in the 
stream. No sooner was he fairly on board than the 
bark was towed out to sea, and hoisting all sail was 
soon out of sight. Before leaving he wrote a letter 
to Goddefroy, Sillem & Co., informing them of his 
intended departure from the country never to return. 
Owing them a large amount he left a confession of 
judgment in their favor for two hundred thousand 
dollars, under which they immediately attached a 
large amount of property. This letter and confession 


were not delivered until the day after his departure, 
and the attachment that followed was the first inti- 
mation the public had of his failure. 

That the arch criminal had confederates in the 
board of aldermen, of which he was shortly before a 
member, among the street contractors of whom he 
was special patron, and among those who aided his 
escape, there can be no doubt. That his scheme 
should so successfully have prospered in the face of so 
many chances against it, shows him to have been what 
his previous career in California and his subsequent 
manipulations of South American railway systems 
amply prove him, a matchless financier and manager. 
It was one of the most gigantic swindles successfully 
perpetrated the world has ever seen. What is 
stranger still the money which he carried away, 
united with his consummate skill, yielded him an im- 
mense fortune, and to this day he has never been 
brought to judgment. Having served an apprentice- 
ship in the politics of San Francisco, he felt qualified 
to manipulate governments on a grander scale ; and 
notwithstanding the blasted reputation which followed 
him, he acquired such an ascendency over the leading- 
minds of Chile and Peru as to blind them to his faults, 
and build for himself a gigantic fortune and a world- 
wide fame. 

As in all scoundrelism there was the utmost heart- 
lessness displayed in his frauds. Rich and poor alike 
he plundered, and scrupled at nothing which should 
add to his ill-gotten gains. The exact amount car- 
ried away by him was never known — probably about 
six hundred thousand dollars. Many victimized never 
mentioned it. His failure and forgeries left him de- 
linquent over two millions. The American was pro- 
visioned for a two years voyage, the bills for wine and 
fine stores amounting to over two thousand dollars. 
She was well armed, having on board four guns, two 
of them brass pieces, and was manned by a crew 
ready to do their master's bidding, so that if over- 

Cal. Int. Poc. 19 


taken the fugitives undoubtedly would have made a 
desperate resistance. 

Yerba Buena cemetery could tell some strange tales 
if its dead could speak. Little dreamed the grave- 
diggers of those days that these dreary acres dotted 
with chaparral and sage-brush beneath, with here 
and there diminutive oaks and stunted laurel which 
hid the timid hare, while the howling coyote prowled 
not far off; that this uninviting wilderness should so 
soon be laid out in broad streets whose sides should 
be lined with beautiful residences, and that from the 
very spot where were then deposited the tired bones 
of the argonauts should so soon arise the magnificent 
city hall of this young, giant metropolis. 

There was one solitary manzanita with blood-red 
stalk and ever-green leaves which looked as if it had 
strayed from some happy valley of the Coast Range, 
hidden from the rude blasts of ocean. It seemed out 
of place here, this bloody red and green shrub, midst 
the ghastly white of dead humanity. It was a sor- 
rowful looking place, harboring the remains of sor- 
rowful men. 

It was in February 1850 that the ayuntamiento 
set aside there shifting sands for burial purposes. In 
1857 an old fence enclosed the sacred ground, entrance 
to which was made through a dilapidated gate. The 
place was sadly neglected, the paths in places entirely 
obliterated, and the grove approached only by wad- 
ing ankle deep in sand. There in a dismal pit, 
twenty-five by eighty feet, lay the bones of 800 pio- 
neers, piled side by side, and one above another, a 
strange medley, and whose flitting ghosts could each 
tell its own strange story. 

Beside this mammoth sepulchre was the bone- 
bleaching ground of the Celestials, where the disin- 
terred bodies of dead Chinamen were whitened and 
dried by the bonfire made of their own redwood coffins. 
When properly cured, these precious relics were care- 
fully packed in strong boxes, and shipped to the angel- 


visiting land of Fohi. Poor, indeed, and most unhappy, 
he who hitherward from the Flowery Kingdom wan- 
dered, never to return.* Unlucky shades of homeless 
bones ! And yet there are such lying here. Long- 
rows of significantly shaped sand heaps mark the rest- 
ing-place of moneyless bones. Some have a board 
with characters scrawled on it for a tombstone, but the 
greater part of these graves are nameless. 

With lumber at eight hundred dollars a thousand 
feet, buildings and bunks were made of dry-goods 
boxes, or cloth, though finally boards and shingles 
prevailed. By and by they undertook to grade the 
town, infelicitous to all but street contractors, for this 
left some houses all cellar ; others were perched upon 
foggy cliff, inaccessible except by scaling ladders; 
others looked as if their construction had been begun 
with the roof, and built from the top downward, lower 
stories being added as the dirt was taken away. At 
the door might sometimes be seen stationed a tub of 
water and a broom, with which before entering the 
visitor might wash off his big boots, into which his 
pants were tucked. 

It was all for home — anything for a home. The 
semblance even was heaven after so long and barren 
homelessness. It is hard to overrate the influence of 
home. If we made it, it is part of ourselves, with the 
seal of ourselves set upon it. If we grew up in it, 
then we are part of it, and carry with us through life 
in our reflections, carriage, and conduct its good or 
bad influences. The landscape gives expression to our 
faces, the music of the streams attunes our childish 
hearts, our native air inspires our thoughts. 

Homes are more open than in other countries, less 
private, but none the less sacred. There are few men 
or women so exclusive as not to be easily approached 
by strangers with any sort of credentials. Prying 
into each other's affairs, meddling, gossiping, discuss- 
ing the private relations of neighbors and friends, are 
not prominent vices. Scandal served up with appe- 


tizing minuteness in the morning paper does not mak 
breakfast the less palatable, and the exposure of pri- 
vate life in the public prints does not lessen the circu- 
lation of a journal. 

How many in all this bustling city could pray the 
prayer of Socrates, but would not rather write him 
down a ragged, bare-footed, old heathen, and an ass ? 
" O, beloved Pan, and all ye gods whose dwelling is 
in this place, grant me to be beautiful in soul, and all 
that I possess of outward things to be at peace with 
them within. Teach me to think wisdom the only 
riches. And give me so much wealth, and so mucli 
only, as a good and holy man could manage or enjoy." 

San Francisco climate, like the people, is exceed- 
ingly mixed, very good and very bad ; treacherous, 
contradictory, and yet most reliable ; hot and cold, 
and yet neither hot nor cold ; dry, yet always damp, 
raining, but not wet — clothing at one time on the 
street, lace shawl and furs, overcoat and duster, and 
one as appropriate as another. " Four seasons in one 
day ; blarst such a country 1 " exclaimed a tragic 
Faust as he threw up his engagement and hurried out 
of town. 

Often in the kitchen there were storms; as when 
Alice, who was a good cook, and had a bit of temper 
withal, had her wages gradually reduced from $250 
to $100 a month, flew into a rage, and marched her- 
self off, saying she would not live in such a place. 

How different from all this is the picture of to-day [ 
Gradually from Yerba Buena cove the city of our 
father Saint Francis has spread out, first northward 
over the hills and into the valleys beyond, far away 
to the Golden Gate, then southward for miles, en- 
compassing the old Mission Dolores and far beyond, 
while westward and on the hill tops broad avenues 
lined with palaces and gardens invite the weary money- 
makers to repose. Grand hotels, and mercantile and 
manufacturing establishments, stand along the busy 


thoroughfares, while churches, cathedrals, and public 
buildings rise from the dense mass of lesser structures. 
Elegant equipages with their fair freight roll over the 
paved streets, and out through the park to the ocean 
beach ; while street rail-cars, with scores of miles of 
iron track reaching far out into every suburb, carry 
the less pretentious population to and from their 



mens mutatione recreabitur: sicut in cibis, quorum diversitate reficitur 
stomachus, et pluribus minore fastidio alitur. 

— Quintilian. 

The California year of 1849; what was it? An 
exclamation point in the history of civilization ; a dash 
m the annals of time. This twelve-month was not so 
much a year as an age, not so much an episode as an 
era. Heart throbs, they say, rather than time tell the 
age of man ; here then was a century of heart throbs; 
we could as well drop out of history a hundred of 
other years, as this one most notable year. Other 
years have been repeated, and will be many times; 
this one, never. Throughout the records of the race, 
from first to last, there will never be reproduced on 
this planet the California flush-times drama. It 
stands out in the experiences of men unique and indi- 
vidual, each swift day of it equal to many another 

How vain, then, the attempt to portray this fleet- 
ing hour ! Dreaming will not achieve it, nor romanc- 
ing; it is neither caricature, nor burlesque, nor 
extravaganza. These lead the mind further from the 
truth. Neither will the bald facts, though plainly 
and fairly stated, give a perfect idea of the time ; there 
was present much besides plain facts ; there were facts 
running riot, and the wildest fancy turned into facts — 
a pandemonium of romance and reality. There were 
here fifty thousand active and intelligent young work- 
ers, whose experiences fully written for that year 


THE YEAR OF 1849. 295 

would fill fifty thousand volumes, each as large as 
this. And then the subject would not be fully pre- 
sented, unless into each of these fifty thousand vol- 
umes the breath of inspiration might place true and 
living soul ; for the winds of California were redolent 
of soul, and every morning's sun kindled new fires of 
energy that went not out at night. The 1849 of 
California, of America, of the world! It was the 
pivot on which the frame-work of human progress 
turned a fresh side to the sun, a side breeding mag- 
gots hitherto, but now a new and nobler race of men. 

Since the days of Adam, whose eyes were opened 
to behold himself by his maker, there never has been 
a mirror held up before man which so reflected him 
in his true light, stripped of all the shams and con- 
ventionalities of staid societies. Leaving in their old 
homes every restraint, every influence that bound 
them to ancient forms and traditions, the latter-day 
argonauts entered the mines with name and identity 
sunk. They were no longer their former selves ; they 
were born and baptized anew. Hence arose a social 
organism at once complex and peculiar, whose growth 
is at every turn a new development. 

In dress the people of California were as inde- 
pendent and original as in everything else. Free 
thought and free habits pervaded the whole domain 
of society. Even those who dressed genteelly de- 
clined slavery to fashion. They claimed the privilege 
of exercising taste in preference to bowing before 
French law. Hence it was that the streets of San 
Francisco presented every variety of style in dress the 
world had seen for the last quarter of a century. 

An English writer speaks of *' some forlorn indi- 
vidual exhibiting himself in a black coat and a stove- 
pipe hat, looking like a bird of evil omen among a 
flock of such gay plumage." But the ancient miner 
of early days prided himself to the last in his rags and 
patches, in his torn hat and boots awry, and open- 
breasted woollen shirt with up-rolled sleeves, display- 


ing the tawny hairy skin and swollen muscies — which 
was, indeed, but another species of foppery. This 
rejoicing in their rags was like Antisthenes, through 
the holes of whose clothes Socratss saw rank pride 
peering. In the cities, the several nationalities re- 
tained their peculiar style of dress, so that on the 
streets of San Francisco were to be seen the silver- 
buttoned trousers, leather leggings, and bright-colored 
serape of the Mexican, the shooting-coat dress of the 
Englishman, the corduroys of the Irishman, the black 
of the New Englander, and the Paris fashions of 
Frenchmen, New Yorkers, and southerners. Every 
one could wear what he pleased, and no costume, how- 
ever hizarrey appeared to attract much attention. 

Indeed, while there is so much in dress which speaks 
the character of the wearer, during this most import- 
ant and solemn struggle there were other things to 
absorb the mind. For here for a time the battle of 
good and evil rages fiercely, and before it is fairly 
over, as, indeed, it never is, many will find themselves 
weather-bound, destined never to gather the fruits of 
their toil, destined never to leave these accursed 
shores, but forced by fate to toil on to the end, till 
death relieves them. Like the dart of Abaris, their 
new vocation renders their past invisible, while their 
future henceforth is destined to be filled with those 
accidental colors which depend on the state of the eye 
rather than on the hue of the object. It will be a 
paradise or a penitentiary, as success or failure is en- 
countered. Giving thus all for gold, they are like 
zealous missionaries giving all for Christ, many of 
them dropping or losing their names, so that their 
most intimate companions shall not know them. 

The Connecticut Sunday law forbade travel and 
work except in cases of necessity or mercy, and in 
early times there were few such cases. Massachusetts 
laid a penalty of ten dollars on every one who travelled 
on Sunday, except from necessity or charity. The 
laws of Vermont permitted the maple sugar makers 


to set tubs anew on Sunday in case of an extraordinary 
run of sap. In California there was much necessity, 
much mercy, and sap was always running. 

Sunday, if possible, was chosen for public affairs, 
for arrests, trials, and executions, as there would be 
demonstrated greater public interest on that day. 
The maxim, Dies Dominions non juridicus, had little 
weight with them. So far as mining-town morality 
was concerned, Sunday was a day for anything but 
work. Recreations of any kind were admissible, and 
shirt-washing, bread-making, gambling, drinking, 
horse-racing, fighting, and hanging, all came under 
this category. 

There was here a complete return to primitive ideas 
regarding Sunday. Like Christmas, the Sunday of 
the pioneer Christians was a day of rejoicing. In 
Tertullian's time, the word Sabbatum marked the 
seventh, not the first, day of the week, and to fast on 
that day was deemed sinful. Indeed, if we may be- 
lieve Justin Martyr, there were Christians who, like 
our miners, considered it criminal to keep the sabbath. 

During this epoch of abnormities, when a chaos of 
heterogeneous elements was under fermentation which 
brought to the surface the best and the basest quali- 
ties of human nature, many untried experiments 
must be wrought, many problems solved which never 
before had come within the range of social ethics. 
There must be a re-adaptation of individuals and com- 
munities to new environments. Strange remedies 
must be applied for strange evils ; new resources must 
be developed, new benefits seized and utilized. The 
epoch stands out on the canvas of history in ever 
deepening colors ; and only in ages to come, when 
the knowledge of human actions and divine laws shall 
be brought into nearer relationship, shall its true im- 
port be understood. It was an original melodrama, 
born of the time ; but under Thalia's laughing mask 
were hidden the club and steel of tragedy. The world 
had had its romance of religion, of chiv^alry, of the 


ideal ; but here was its first great romance of utilitar- 
ianism. This was no island of ^gina to be peopled 
by transforming ants into men ; but here men were to 
be made monarchs ; mind was to be emancipated, and 
thought left to its unfoldings, such as never had yet 
been done under the sun. Here, martyrs and heroes, 
unsainted and unsung, amidst strugglings and suffer- 
ings, were to achieve glorious things for the race. 

Digging in the dirt, selling rum, tobacco, flour, and 
bacon, hammering out mining machinery, assaying 
gold and the like, seem dull and prosaic occupations 
enough when compared with the tilts and tournaments 
of knight-errantry, the pious enthusiasm of crusaders, 
and the thrilling deeds on the battle-fields ; neverthe- 
less the poetry and romance are here for all who pre- 
fer reality to fantasy. Here, weather-beaten and 
bearded diggers are unearthing primeval treasures 
which shall revolutionize commerce and society ; they 
are bringing to light brilliant gold wherewith to buy 
happiness; and these ministering towns and cities 
which spring up on every side as if by magic, are the 
marts of their servitors who feed and clothe their 
occupants. Gold-getting, however, is not an end but 
a means ; it is only an incentive or impulse in the 
great plan of progress. The romance of it is found in the 
strange developments, the wonderful events, the grand 
display of that force which brings order out of chaos, 
and places under subjection to the whole, tempers op- 
pugnant and apparently ungovernable, with the least 
personal restraint possible. 

By the prudish and pharisaical this anomalous life 
and society may be regarded with abhorrence ; by the 
social philosopher and lover of the race, it will be 
studied as one of the most interesting and instructive 
pages of history. In older societies impurities sink to 
the bottom or gather in slimy corners; but when the 
stream of progress, in an ungovernable torrent, forced 
a new channel westward, filth and purity were stirred 
up together, and its waters became thick with passion 


and prejudice ; hence never before have we had such an 
opportunity of watching the phenomena of separation 
and purification as here presents itself Neither Brit- 
ish Columbia nor Australia at all compare with Cali- 
fornia in this respect, for here, from the beginning, 
there was always the wildest latitude allowed to hu- 
man action, consistent with self-preservation, while in 
the British colonies gold-seekers, from the first, were 
under an established rule. 

In California, the only government and the only 
recognition of crime was such as grew out of necessity. 
There was never any parental restraint or guidance, 
there was no period of formation or childhood ; from 
a scattered assemblage of diversified tongues and 
colors the population at once assumed state preroga- 
tives; and being ill-understood by any not on the 
spot, and far removed from eastern influence, the peo- 
ple were left to do very much as they pleased. 

On arriving in California, the new-comer soon found 
himself enlisted in the ranks of one of two classes, the 
hopeful or the despondent. If of the former, he was 
soon seized with the intoxication of his new surround- 
ings, and joined the business orgie. Confident and 
daring, he at once went to work at something, — any- 
thing, whatever first oflered itself, and continued in 
energetic industry until success in a greater or less 
degree was achieved. Often he would fall, and as 
often rise again. There was no such thing as remain- 
ing down, no thought of yielding. His grasp on for- 
tune was firm and constant, and althougli the slippery 
jade might sometimes twist herself almost from his 
grasp, he never would entirely lose his hold, for this 
once lost, all was lost. This doo-ped determination, 
hope m the future, belief in the times, and confidence 
in himself were a fortune. Should he join the ranks 
of the latter class, he was forced to abandon all his 
bright hopes, and turn himself over to despair. Every 
thing he saw was dark and gloomy. A man of con- 
science in society and business, the glorious drunken- 


ness of the times was denied him. The rains of winter 
dampened his anticipations and drowned his energies; 
the cold, coast winds cut into his vitals, and the hot, 
summer sun of the valleys withered his hopes, and left 
him despondent and nerveless. With heart sunk 
within him, every blow he struck was echoed by his 
rattling bones Disgusted with himself and all the 
world, and heaping curses on the country, he returned 
home, if he could get there, covered with shame, or 
eked out a broken-hearted existence in the land he so 
heartily hated. 

The very qualities most conducive to prosperity in 
older communities were to some extent out of place 
here; men thrived on what elsewhere would prove 
their destruction. Old maxims were as useless as 
broken crockery. True, among the shrewder spirits 
there was a method in their madness, and sometimes 
seemingly rash and headlong speculation was the re- 
sult of well-laid schemes. There were times when a 
general advance in prices rose into a mania, and then 
whatever a man bought, real estate or merchandise, 
was sure to yield him a profit a week, or a day, or an 
hour afterward. All this seemed to one newly arrived 
a bedlam of insane speculation, and speedy convulsion 
was predicted. 

At first there were no fixed customs in the country 
to which every comer must in a greater or less degree 
adapt himself Every man's conduct was regulated 
by his own tastes rather than by preestablished rules 
of society. Fashion never found more indifferent vo- 
taries. But the romance and irksomeness of this kind 
of life gradually wore away ; woman came to the res- 
cue, and the proprieties, suavity of manners, and staid 
customs of older societies came into general observ- 
ance. Society separated into strata; something like 
caste appeared, and the components of the community 
became more and more individualized. 

Most of those who came hither were in the matur- 
ity of manhood, with more or less skill and experienca 


in their several vocations. This skill and experience, 
by means of which society is influenced, were acquired 
under different systems of education and discipline ; 
and in the adaptation of these experiences, one to an- 
other, and all to a general whole, theory and specula- 
tion were in a measure thrown aside, and men became 
eminently practical. All must discard something 
of that just pride for the ancient and local customs of 
their fathers under which their progress had been at- 
tained thus far. This it was difficult at once to 
do. The way in which we are accustomed to do a 
thing we cannot but feel to be the best way, and we 
see no reason why we should throw it aside for an- 
other which will bring about results less easily. Nor 
need we, except in some instances, when we must per- 
force adapt ourselves to general customs. And by 
this discarding of habits formed on a framework of 
technical philosophy alone, and seizing upon actuali- 
ties as they exist, irrespective of their origin, the 
grandest results are attained. 

Until a late day we lacked home and the home feel- 
ing in California. We began by staying here a little 
while, and we have remained longer than we intended. 
We lack the associations running back for generations, 
the old homestead, the grandfather, and grandmother, 
and uncles, and aunts, and cousins. There is nothing 
around us hallowed by an indistinct past. There is 
nothing older than ourselves ; all that we see has 
grown up under our eyes, and for these creatures of 
our own creation we have no reverence. We are not 
yet settled, we are constantly moving to and fro like 
restless spirits, living in hotels and boarding houses ; 
or if we have a home we want to sell it and go into 
the country, or to Europe. It is so much trouble 
keeping house, with these Chinamen for chamber- 
maids ! 

The average intelligence of any nation in Christen- 
dom, not even exceptfiig the great American people, 
is greatly overrated ; particularly when it comes to 


mankind acting in the mass, cooperatively, as a sect, 
order, or legislative body. The noise and bustle of 
some excite others ; as an old broken down cart- 
horse, driven into a band of wild, frolicsome horses, 
becomes fractious and unmanageable. Business 
breeds business, and caution engenders caution. He 
who croaks and hoards, lying in wait for opportunities 
to get something for nothing, incites others to croak 
and hoard and lie in wait ; and so stagnation follows. 
A man who cheerfully, and with hope in his heart, 
goes to work, develops the resources of his country, 
buys and sells and builds, will incite like activity in 
others, and development and property must follow. 
Deliberation and caution are well enough in their 
place, and not to be overlooked at any time, but a 
good driver does not put on the brakes going up hill. 
It is true that the people of California are very 
greatly absorbed in making money. And this is as it 
should be, for what is money-making but develop- 
ment and progress ? Culture and refinement always 
follow material prosperity, they never precede it. 
We have here lands to be put under contribution, 
mines to be opened, railroads and cities to be built ; 
would it be accounted to us as wise to sit down to 
play when we have made no provision for our dinner ? 
First provide for the material man, else the mental 
will fare poorly enough. But, say our friends at the 
east, "You have made money enough ; it is time you 
should turn your attention to something better than 
money, if ever you intend doing so." Very true, but 
railway trains are not stopped at full speed; cart 
horses do not usually make the best racers, and ships 
built for the water do not sail well in the air. 
Money-makers are simply machines, as are philoso- 
phers and scholars ; take one to pieces and remodel 
it, and the Avorking of it afterward is very doubtful. 
I see no other way but to give the country time. 
The next generation will beget new inventions, ex- 
periences thus brought together propagate. Hence 


it is that we are more fully up to the times in every- 
thing, much more, all things put together, than al- 
most any other community. 

It is easy to understand how men and women thus 
thrown together, strangers to each other, strangers 
in ideas, speech, and traditions, without the substra- 
tum, as a social foundation, which only can coalesce 
as society slowly develops, fail to have that interest 
in each other and that intense loyalty which charac- 
terizes older and more settled communities. Society 
here is a malformation, or rather it is yet not society, 
but only materials for society; yet nowhere will the 
people quicker or more heartily unite for the public 
good; nowhere are they more free and social than 
liere; nowhere is there less clap-trap and ridiculous 
apings of things traditional than here. 

Strangers coming together cannot immediately em- 
brace and become brothers. They have too little in 
common, see too many faults in each other; will not 
mellow on the insta.nt asperities of character. The seeds 
of lasting friendship are usually planted in early life, 
and matured in a soil of warm and tender sympathy, in 
order to produce a plant which will endure the storms 
of selfishness that beat upon it in after life. Once 
the social heart of California lay so imbedded in gold 
that it could not throb. The passions were let loose, 
and a moral leprosy infected the people like an epi- 
demic. But all this passed away, as every epidemic 
passes, after having weeded society of some of its 
weaknesses, and left it in fair condition for permanent 

To the great majority of the pioneers the Sierra 
was a sphinx propounding a riddle, which they must 
answer. Thousands laid down their lives in the at- 
tempt, for there were the lion's claws to tear the un- 
successful venturer in pieces. Of rare celestial beauty 
was the face and bosom of the goddess as she lured 
men to their destruction; of dark ferocity was she as 
she lapped them to their final doom. 


Very hard were the times in the mountains now 
and then ; times when no one could pay his butcher 
bill, when the miner had not money enough to roll 
tenpins; yet, there was little complaining. The 
merchant considered it useless to sue for his account, 
for even if he could collect it, he knew he would incur 
enough of unpopularity to make the loss many times 
greater, and perhaps get a sound thrashing some night 
when the boys were deep in their cups and with plenty 
of money. Society at this time was far too unselfish 
for its own good, or for the good of the world. 

An aristocracy, in the common acceptation of the 
term, never has found place in California. Vain and 
silly women have attempted cliques, have drawn round 
themselves lines of exclusiveness, and essayed tbe 
leadership of fashion; but all such efforts have had 
little mterest to any except the aspirants themselves, 
usually involving them in contempt and ridicule. 
Likewise there have not been wanting those, who, 
jealous of the pretensions of the ambitious in this 
direction, have by their envious scoffings betrayed 
a desire for the position which they pretended to 
despise. With no provincial court, with the officers 
of government not the most admirable characters 
in the community, with no fixed military or naval 
system, with agents of the general government too 
poorly paid to make much display, with but a 
small literary class, with the entire community in- 
tent chiefly on money-getting, and holding in con- 
tempt all forms save the forms of debit and credit, 
there was here not the first element on which 
to base an aristocracy, either of money or mind. 
Wealth was worshipped, and success, and that keen- 
ness of intellect which could acquire wealth ; but the 
possessor was as frequently despised, and his quondam 
washer- woman w^ife snubbed by her less pretentious 
sisters. Early society here was an aggregation of 
strangers in which lucky strokes of fortune dazzled 


the eyes of competitors, and unostentatious merit 
passed unnoticed ; great men, if success can be called 
greatness, were too near their beginning to inspire 
that respect necessary to the formation of an aris- 
tocracy in social circles. There were here no old 
families whose merit, wealth, or respectability had 
long -held their neighbors in esteem, though there 
were the beginnings of many such. 

Woman played her part in early California annals, 
her influence being abnormal as much by reason of its 
absence as its presence. For the absence of women 
had a strange effect upon the men, although they 
themselves were scarcely aware of it. Religion they 
could do well enough without, while dwelling for a 
time in this wilderness, but that their life should be 
limited to a community of men was indeed a new ex- 
perience. It was like a void in nature, something 
dropped out of their existence. 

After all, which condition was the harder : her s 
whose smile dissembled the sinking heart on parting ; 
her s whose brave words belied the glistening tear that 
hung trembling on the droopmg eyelid ; hers whose 
lot it was, all through the cold winter with him away, 
to fight the hunger- wolf that prowled about the door, 
and keep her little ones from freezing, or his who 
abandons all for the hope of getting gold? 

There is but one tiling this side of heaven lovelier 
than the form and face of woman, and that is her 
heart-bloom. Fed by the veiled virtues, the poetic 
courtesies, the delicate influences and affections, with 
all the tender sacrifices locked within, it fills the at- 
mosphere with its fragrance, redeems man from him- 
self, and makes a paradise of what were otherwise a 
barren waste. A thing in some form desired by all 
men, she whose heart beats true to the coming and 
going of her friends; she whose brain was all ablaze 
with ten thousand tender fantasies ; she through whose 
eyes one sees her heaven-lit soul ; she whose deft 

Cal. Int. Foe. 20 


fingers are as dancing points of thought ; she whose feet 
upon the sward are lighter than the soft south wind; 
she whose voice is angels' music singing whence she 
came ; she whose charms are crowned by goodness 
and sweet, gentle sympathy; such is gentle, virtuous 
woman. " 

Spaniards w^ho had wives in Spain were forbidden 
by King Ferdinand to reside in any of the colonies; 
they must go after them. There were no King 
Ferdinands to make the men of California bring out 
their wives. At first wives were few, but houris in 
abundance came from the uttermost parts of the earth, 
whose beauty and virginity, like the black-eyed dam- 
sels of paradise, were, in the eyes of the soiled and 
solitary Californians, renewable at pleasure. Of these, 
as the Koran tells of the houris in paradise, each wo- 
man-worshipper, if he possessed sufficient gold-dust, 
might have seventy-two. So that for women, the 
mines became like Torquemada's fabulous Lizard is- 
lands, a retreat for outcast damsels of every species. 

In the cities, particularly, and sometimes in the 
mines, there were not lacking Aspasias of the superior 
tjqje, refined and cultivated women whom sinuous cir- 
cumstances had driven from the garden of chastit} , 
and whose intellectual attractions were surpassed only 
by their personal charms. When, however, the young 
men began to think of making this country their 
home, they longed for home comforts and happiness, 
chief among which was a wife. Whereupon they, 
some of them, marry and are soon led to thank God 
for the blessing of no children. 

How often Avhen death's tidings came of a loved 
one gone, father, mother, wife, or child, has the soli- 
tary mourner withdrawn from his boisterous compan- 
ions, retired to the woods or to the hill-side, and there 
• held his lonely funeral. The hope of his life, perhaps, 
his morning and evening star, that for which he had 
come hither, the main-spring and motive of all his 
toil, suddenly destroyed. Oh ! God, is it necessary 



thus to torment ? Might not omnipotence have devised 
some scheme less cruel than that which must needs 
send up one universal wail from the beginning to the 
end of time, wailing births followed by wailing deaths, 
as though spirit and flesh had been united only to be 
torn asunder, as though sentient beings had been 
created only for the amusement of fate ? What is this 
one lesson nature teaclies us ? Short, swift, and damna- 
ble. Throughout the ages the stron^r shall eat up 
the weak, and death shall swallow all. Foolish are 
we, to propagate our kind that they may be made 
the sport of the present, with the certainty of a final 
ghastly issue. 

Now the heathen for their gods do not have that 
love and respect. Love, or what was called love in 
Homeric heroes, in tlio minds of Augustan critics, and 
in mediasval religious devotees was but a weakness. 
Among warriors, the tender sentiment implied effiemi- 
nacy, and too often piety pleaded the will of heaven as 
an excuse for treachery to woman. And what did 
the gods themselves know about love? Their love 
was all sensuality. Jupiter put Cupid in the stocks 
because the mischievous imp would not make the 
women love him for himself alone, but must first turn 
him into bull, satyr, swan, or other form before his 
presence should inspire the tender passion. They 
would call it liate, not love, that prompted the idea of 
eternal burning. 

There are in every city other fifty wives besides the 
fifty daughters of Danaus, king of Argos, who kill 
their husbands, if not in a sino-le ni^ht, then in a time 
made yet more cruel by its prolonged length. 

Intolerant of restraint as the wild votaries of Bel- 
lona, or of Anubis, of Osiris, or of Cybele, like the 
Romans of Juvenal's da}', one common quality of 
reckless disregard of consequences pervaded the whim 
of the hour. Amorous widow-hunters of the Colonel 
Chartres or duke of Roussillon type, preeminent in 
their superfluity of naughtiness, met with fair success. 


Dr Brewer in his Dictionary of Phrase and Fahky 
says that frequently he who went to dig gold in Cali- 
fornia, put to board in some neighbor's family his 
wife and children, or, as it was sometimes termed, 
turned them out to grass — hence grass- widow. This 
definition is far-fetched. Originally the term signified 
an unmarried mother; later, a wife separated from 
her husband. 

Just how far the absence of woman affected society 
it is difficult to determine. With her men are fools ; 
without her devils. Man may be made better or 
worse by woman according to her quality. As a 
modest maiden and a true and loving wife, she is the 
£iirest handiwork of the creator; as a splenetic 
moody demirep, she is the aptest instrument of the 
devil. As Dante, probably with his own termagant 
wife in view, groans "■ La fiera moglie piii ch'altro, mi 
nuoce." With the purity of her heart she may make 
all things pure ; under the counterfeits of love she 
may seduce by her charms, and doom to death by her 
affection. Within a limited sphere every woman has 
a Pandora's box which she may open if she chooses. 
Physically weaker than man, morally woman is 
greatly his superior. She is his superior as well iu 
the emotional part of her nature as in her finer sense 
of duty ; she is more self-sacrificing, has greater sen- 
sibility, is naturally more chaste, more tender, more 
compassionate, more forgivJTig; she excels in all pas- 
sive virtues, but in intellect, ethics, in courage, in the 
activities of life she falls behind her ruder companion. 

Women feel rather than think; they are governed 
by impulse rather than by opinion. In an evenly bal- 
anced community they are less tempted than men, and 
therefore less given to criminality; but once fairly 
embarked in excesses, and they outstrip the most 
vicious men. The partner of man in his low estate 
as well as in his right living, woman cannot lift her- 
self much above the moral atmosphere which he 
makes for her. Hence it is that had it been possible 


for women to have followed the gold-seekers of 1849, 
and to have endured the hardships of the California 
flush times, it is probable that as a whole, and to a 
certain extent, they would have fallen into excesses 
themselves, instead of withholding their companions 
entirely from them. The patience, modesty, and 
gentleness of the better sort would have greatly as- 
sisted the sobriety and magnanimity of the men, but 
the frivolity and jealousy of the more graceless would 
have increased their intemperance and brutality. 
Much would have depended on the view taken of 
the question by the women ; had they been there, and 
had they been as ready to sacrifice all for gold ; had 
they been as ambitious, as avaricious, and as untram- 
elled by society as were the men ; the intensity of 
the orgies would have been increased ten-fold. 
Haply she was never called to undergo the ordeal. 
Before her appearance on the scene the ebullition had 
materially subsided, and gold-diggers began to think 
seriously of becoming settlers, and of making this 
country their home. The first females to come — and 
these were early enough upon the ground — were the 
vicious and unchaste, who opened and presided at 
brilliant saloons and houses of ill-fame, and sat by 
the gambler and assisted him in raking in his gains 
and paying his losses. Flaunting in their gay attire 
they were civilly treated by the men, few of whom, 
even of the most respectable and sedate, disdained to 
visit their houses. On the steamers coming out, the 
frail, fair one was often shown all the delicate consid- 
erations due to the fine lady of immaculate morals ; 
the officers of the ship were always at her command, 
and if a favorite of the captain she was assigned a 
seat at his table. On her arrival, merchants and 
judges were among her associates. There was little 
social caste or moral quality in those days. In the 
absence of the true the imitation was made to answer. 
And so men went wild over the shadow as they were 
doing in other things; the folds of female drapery 


were worshipped, whether they held a woman or a 
skeleton. Later, families were brought out, "virtue 
and domestic honor gained the ascendancy, and inde- 
cency slunk away and hid itself. Then the maiden 
and spinster at the east were seized with a desire to 
visit their aunt or sister and see California. Much 
to their surprise, most of them found husbands shortly 
after their arrival, never dreaming of such a possibil- 
ity. Enterprising young men advertised for wives ; 
but the demand being so much greater than the sup- 
ply, this method was not the most successful. Fre- 
quently, however, through the medium of a common 
friend, likenesses of a very puny man in California 
and a sorrowing damsel at the east would be ex- 
changed, letters would follow, and then the wooer 
would send on the passage-money, and the blushing 
fair one hasten over the sea to her adorer. Old 
sweethearts often came out to their lovers, who met 
and married them on the steamer deck. 

It needs nothing further to prove the influence of 
pure woman on those destined to receive happiness at 
her hand than to notice the behavior of one who is 
expecting a wife or sweetheart. Some time before the 
steamer is due, the greasy hat and checked shirt are 
thrown aside, and whitewashed of his past, with clean 
linen and shaven chin, the happy expectant is suddenly 
seized with a desire to attend church. He manifests, 
perhaps, a deep interest in the Sunday-school, and 
wishes to become a teacher; he sighs over the dese- 
crations of the sabbath, and the moral depravity of the 
country. As the hour for the steamer to arrive draws 
near, he becomes nervous, business seems irksome, he 
looks in the glass, pulls out a gray hair or two, brushes 
his new clothes, and walks up to the top of Telegraph 
hill, and then around to the Merchants' Exchange. 
Finally the steamer is telegraphed ; he rushes down to 
the wharf, piously curses the general slowness of things, 
springs on board before the plank is put out, elbows 
his way through the crowd, finds her, and clasps 


her to his regenerate heart. Gaudet tentamine virtus ! 

The men were relatively superior to the women. 
As a rule, the better class of men came to California, 
and a more ordinary class of women. The trip to this 
country was tedious, disgusting to a sensitive, delicate 
woman ; there was no society here, no household con 
venience. It was a very hard place for a woman. 
The finer specimens of womanhood could find husbands 
at home ; there was no necessity for them to undergo 
the horrors of a sea voyage to California, and its so- 
ciety afterward. Nevertheless, multitudes of noble 
and true women did come ; but it must be admitted 
that woman here in early times was not the intelligent, 
refined, and sensible being that is found in older and 
more settled communities. In California good hus- 
bands regularly once a week rolled up their sleeves, 
and helped wife or daughter at the wash-tub. 

To live in purity, woman must have the sympathy 
of those around her; thousands in California have 
fallen simply from the fact that men had no faith in 
them. Othello played before a Californian audience 
in those days would have appealed to sentiments 
strange to the hearts of many of the hearers. 

Now and then ships from France and elsewhere 
would enter the port, with companies of respectable 
girls on board, who would be immediately caught up 
by gamblers and saloon-keepers, to assist at the table 
or dispense drinks, at two hundred and fift}^ dollars a 
month; but alas, within a week or two, despite the 
vigilance of the proprietor, they would be mated ! 

Thus we see that there were true women and there 
were false women among those the gold-seekers left 
behind. California widows they were called, and they 
were to be found in every rural town, every hotel, 
boarding-house, and watering place. Faithful, modest 
wives and mothers some of them were, patiently 
waiting the end of this sudden and strange family dis- 
ruption. Round them were mouths to feed and no re- 
mittance came ; yet never doubting, the heart-en- 


shrined image was crowned with fidehty and noble 
purpose. And thus, through years of anxious toil 
they held to their hopes, dreaming at night horrible 
dreams of staring gold-diggings up to their neck in 
glittering mud, their heads wreathed in rattlesnakes, 
gnawed by wolves, or cut oiF for foot-balls by the 
savages, all the while not knowing whether their hus- 
bands were alive or not. Their existence they knew 
to be a living death, yet they worked away, sewing 
for the tailor, making shirts, giving lessons to the 
neighbors' children, or even working out. 

There were others, however, who took a more free 
and fanciful view of their situation, and determined to 
enjoy and make the best of it. These lived on the 
charity of their family or friends. It was unsafe to 
treat them with coldness or neglect, for any moment 
their husband might return a millionaire. Young 
and beautiful and abandoned ! True, temporarily and 
for her own benefit abandoned ; but why should he 
think more of gold than of her? The first taste of 
wedlock was sweet; by it, howe\'er, the appetite was 
only whetted, not gratified. Former and unsuccess- 
ful lovers were now remembered and smiled upon, and 
flirtation was found a pleasing way to shorten the 
hours of a husband's absence. Some returned in time 
to reclaim their wives from too free a course of dissi- 
pation ; others did not. 

Du Hailly refers to the English custom of sending 
young women out to India to get married there, and 
says that this custom finds its counterpart in Califor- 
nia in a curious prospectus in which an American 
woman, Mrs Farnham, offered to organize, on a large 
scale, a scheme for the emigration of women to San 
Francisco. The highest respectability was required, 
and no emigrant was admitted under twenty-five years 
of age. A ship was chartered especially for their use, 
and each must have 1200 francs. Small as was the 
amount required, the enterprise was not a success ; but 
this did not hinder the Californian colonization agents 


from continuing to solicit in their publications the 
fair sex to come. "What does it matter about 
money," they said, ''that is the last consideration of a 
gentleman among us." *'The young person who loves 
the world and its pleasures," says one of them, " will 
find here partners ready to procure her every enjoy- 
ment; while she who is incHned to domestic comfort 
will meet quiet and steady men whose doors will open 
to welcome her." 

Of the wrecked hopes of men in California many 
speak; of the wasted sympathy of woman, of her vain 
yearning for the promised tenderness, of her faith 
among the faithless, her constancy after all affection 
had been withdrawn from her, her deep sorrows and 
sufferings as the reward of a devoted life — none at all. 
What are the blows of battle to him who engages in 
the conflict in comparison to the helpless agony of an 
eye-witness ? All things will a man give for his life. 
Woman gives all for love ; deny her this and she is 
dead indeed. A catalogue of Californian infidelities, 
broken vows, brutal treatment, failure to provide on 
the part of him who took from a happy home a tender 
loving heart under promise of eternal love and pro- 
tection, would make one blush for the race. Men 
came hither to rough it, and it did them no harm, 
but added to their manliness. For woman, a life in 
California in early times was probably one of the most 
trying positions she could be called upon to endure, 
her love, her pride, her health, and strength, her 
honor and religion, all being brought under the crucial 
test. If she could drudge by day, and withstand dis- 
comforts by night, and live under it, she could 
manage to get along ; but with want and unkindness 
tliis could not always be. Too often her weary life 
was soulless duty, and death the only recompense ; 
and thus was her gentle spirit crushed and made ripe 
for heaven. 

Content is godliness; but for a woman to have 
content, she must have something beside wealth ; her 


heart knows no alchemy that will turn it into gold. 
There is a limit beyond which mere mental culture 
and unaspiring industry, be they never so earnest and 
patient, cannot broaden or deepen the soul. There 
must be a little sentiment, a little feminine ambition, 
a little womanly excitement other than that which a 
purely money-making husband usually gives ; else the 
tender harmonj^ of the heart is silenced, and the deli- 
cate flower withers and droops. California was no 
place for a fastidious woman. She who could wash 
best, iron best, or cook best, was the most independ- 
ent, and the one to win fortune, and even happiness if 
her nature admitted it. Nevertheless, there were 
many whose hearts nothing but a golden key could 

It is not to be wondered at that intemperance in 
business and pleasure should result in social discord. 
Though the Yankee element predominated, there was 
in society at the first, scarcely what could be called a 
recognized or recognizable nationality ; California was 
then but a geographical expression — Vox et praeterea 

The guests of a large dinner or supper party were 
as varied in 'character and qualities of mind as among 
the rich men of Rome, who had acquired wealth by 
disreputable means in the days of Pliny, though the 
San Francisco host did not carry the distinction so 
far as to serve up different qualities of food and wine 
to the different guests as in Rome. 



E come gli stornei ne portan I'ali 

Nel f red do tempo a shiera larga e plena; 

Cosi quel fiato gli spirit! mali 

Di qud., di la, di giu, di sii gli mena : 

Nulla speranza gli conforta mai ; 

Non che di posa, ma di minor penor. 

-DelV Inferno. 

In Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead, Charon com- 
pels all to strip before entering his boat ; the rich man 
of his wealth, the vain man of his foppery, the king of 
his pride and kingship, the athlete of his flesh, the 
partrician of his noble birth and his honors, the phil- 
osopher of his disputatiousness, his rhetorical flourishes, 
his antitheses and parallelisms, and all his wordy 
trumpery. None may go to the regions of the dead 
even with a rag of clothes on. 

Now there are many in California who would like 
to take with them there all they have, who are trem- 
blingly fearful of dying and leaving the wealth they 
love so much ; who cannot bear the thought of parting 
with it even after death ; and so they leave it to be dis- 
sipated by lawyers and executors, instead of devoting 
it themselves to some useful and noble purpose. Many 
large estates have, in this way been scattered, which 
doubtless wrung the souls of their former owners as 
they looked up, watchful and wistful, at the hapless 
flow of their dear ducats. After all, there is a not 
wholly unjust law of compensation applicable to savage 
and civilized, poor and rich, the past and the present ; 
e A^en the most tormented in life may find relief in the 

( 315) 


sweets of death. Let him beware who takes to him- 
self more than his share of good, for upon him the 
gods will lay a corresponding quota of evil. 

To a gold-laden ass all doors open. But the wealth- 
winners of California were not asses, whatever may 
prove to be some of their descendants, who like an 
oyster have much mouth but no head. Their lives, 
it is true, were too much like the life of an ass, enticed 
to drag its load by the fodder held before it, and which 
sees nothing but the fodder. They worked for money 
as if they had a wolf in their stomachs. Some were 
made wealthy by their avarice ; others were made ava- 
ricious by their wealth. There were men among them 
of whom it might be said, as it was of Jeremy Taylor, 
"His very dust is gold"; there were others of whom 
we are compelled to admit, ''His very gold is 

Wealth does not accumulate in the hands of a com- 
munity by accident, nor by divine interposition, neither 
does literature, art, nor science. Because men will 
so and so is not a sufficient reason for their doings ; 
all human actions are the result of cause, and individ- 
uals will to act, or they act, because of that cause. It 
was the application of the principles of political economy 
to social philosophy, though carried not quite so far 
as at the present time, that made the Wealth of Nations 
of Adam Smith so long the popular and powerful ex- 
ponent of economic principles. 

Early in the sixties there arose a race of bonanza 
kings with silver souls ; silver were their friends, and 
silver were their enemies, for to be worthy their con- 
sideration at all, they must be of silver; silver was 
their meat and meditations ; their doors were barred 
with silver, and silver paved their way to the final 
abode of souls. There was a whiskey demon and a 
silver demon, and these two demons fought; the silver 
demon caught the whiskey demon, but the whiskey 
demon gnawed out the vitals of the silver demon. 
Great is whiskey, and great is silver, but the greatest 


of all is the bonanza king who gives his best friend 
points that direct him the shortest road to ruin. 

Then spawned speculation, all kinds of gambling- 
being in vogue in saintly circles and rabble congrega- 
tions — all except the honest old-time games, such as 
faro, monte, and poker. And there were established 
among the sand-hills society shops, where the undying- 
reign of fashion set in; and politician shops, where 
fat offices were sold ; and peculation shops, where 
office-holders might turn an honest penny, and pay 
the purchase-money for their place. 

There were some good fellows among the latter-day 
rich men, but not many. They were generally of the 
Gripus order ; some hard drinkers among them, who 
when in their cups did not always treat with distin- 
guished courtesy their guests ; who were well enough 
satisfied to let Lucullus sup with Lucullus. Avarice 
gnawed at their vitals like the parasite in the stomach 
of a shark. Banks sprang up whose caterpillar was a 
steamboat or a grog-shop, and dignified dames sat in 
stately parlors whose grub was the laundry. These 
later overwhelmingly rich ones were quite diflerent 
from the free-hearted and free-handed of the flush 
times, who, like Ali Baba, would not take the time 
to count their gold, but measured it. The enormous 
wealth of the former seemed rather to create a hunger 
for more money, with a gnawing appetite ever in- 
creased by what it fed on. Then perhaps they would 
grow covetous of fame and higher social standing, and 
60 fl^it about, hither and thither, restless, and perhaps 
reckless, in search of something which, when found, 
only added to their unappeased desires. 

Along the pathway of nations, savage and civilized, 
we see every community with its moral ideal which 
acts as an individual cohesive force holding society to- 
gether. It seems of less importance what the ideal is 
than that there should be one. Theft was the moral 
standard round which revolved all virtue in the mind 


of an Apache, while the Comanche would probably 
have placed murder first. In ancient Greece, far 
above female chastity was patriotism, while with us 
the relative importance of the two virtues is reversed. 
Spain's strongest social bond was loyalty, that and 
its ill-favored companion, religious bigotry. In the 
days of pious vigils, and self-crucifixions, humility was 
at a premium, while later boldness and bravery were 
the highest virtues. 

Now, although the chief object of every one pres- 
ent was money, wealth was not their highest admira- 
tion. Gold was plentiful. All started on an equality. 
If in the scramble some filled their pockets while 
others did not, the former were lucky, and that was 
all. All of them were still men, good men or bad 
men as they were before, and not one whit changed ; 
nor were they in the eyes of any there present special 
objects of adoration. Temperance, chastity, piety, 
none of these assuredly were the moral ideal of the 
time, neither was patriotism, asceticism, nor any of 
the soft amenities of life. 

What then was that paramount virtue worthy the 
devout admiration of this august rabble ? It was a 
quality for which I find no single exact expression in 
any vocabulary. It was a new quality for worshipful 
purposes, and made up of several common qualities. 
Take from extravagance its love of display, from 
prodigality the element which tends to the destruction 
of its possessor, and from munificence every appear- 
ance of charity, and we approach the opposite of 
what is commonly called meanness, which was the 
exact opposite of the moral ideal of the time. Gen- 
erosity, open-handedness, large-heartedness, here was 
the ideal ; and if it ran its possessor upon the shoals 
of bankruptcy, or into a drunkard's grave, it was 
lamentable, but no such black and accursed evil as 
parsimoniousness, stinginess, niggardliness, or in a 
word, meanness. There was nothing in the world so 
mean as meanness. If a debtor was unfortunate and 


could not pay ; all right, better luck next time. If 
he was thoroughly competent and honest he could ob- 
tain credit anywhere, twice as much as before. But 
if he was a mean man, if he had resorted to any 
trick, or subterfuge, or had attempted to cover any 
cunning; or if he was low in his ideas, grovelHng in 
his tastes, close-fisted and contemptible, a mangy dog 
were better than he. 

As in otlier abnormal accomplishments, so in pro- 
fanity, the miner aimed at the highest excellence. 
The ordinary insipid swearing he scorned, and so in- 
vented new terms of blasphemy befitting his more 
exalted ideas. Since the days of Cain God was never 
so cursed. Profanity was adopted as a fine art, and 
practised with the most refined delicacy and tact. 
From morning till night men mouthed their oaths 
and then swallowed them. The language of blas- 
phemy, with its innumerable dialects and idioms, de- 
veloped into a new tongue, which displayed great 
depth and variety, with delicate shades befitting the 
idiosyncrasies of individual swearers. The character 
of the man was nowhere more clearly defined than 
in the quality and quantity of his oaths; one who 
could not or would not swear was scarcely a man at 
all, and but little better than a pious hypocrite or a 
woman. Among the most cultivated blasphemers, 
who made swearing a study, eupliony was first of all 
regarded ; and this was effected by alliteration, an 
adjective followed by a substantive both beginning 
v/ith the same letter. The style though studied 
might be of the simple or florid cast, but it was sure to 
be both original and effective. 

Not that all men swore, or that all the swearing of 
the world during this epoch was done here ; I only 
claim that it was here original, if not abnormal and 

Oaths have their mood and tense and number, their 
individuality, and nationality. There is the sportive 


oath, light airy and graceful as the limbs of the youtli- 
ful dandy ; the earnest oath ; the angry oath ; the 
frank and hearty oath, indicative of honesty and good 
humor; the oath of success, in which the choicest 
gems of irreverence are thrown off like soap-bubbles ; 
oaths of time, place, and occupation; the oath of com- 
mon conversation, the murderous cut-throat oath, the 
business oath, the oath of greeting, swearing when not 
knowing what else to say; the midnight guttural 
drunken oath, the clear ringing gladsome oath of 
morning, the orthodox oath, oaths that are not oaths, 
reluctantly coming from bashful inexperienced lips ; 
the scientific doubly-refined oath of the gambler ; 
oaths of nations, the good old round English oath, 
racy and mouth-filling as even Hotspur should wish, 
the rolling sacre of the Frenchman, the infernal melody 
of the Spaniard, the whining Yankee cussings, the 
spluttering Dutchman's swearings, and the imitative 
intonations of the Celestial. The muleteer relieved 
his burdened bosom in outpourings that seldom failed 
to convict the most impenitent animal. Approaching 
the unfortunate mule that had fallen under a heav} 
load, or had mired in the mud, its driver would pour 
forth such a stream of profanity into its ear as would 
make the dumb beast tremble in every fibre, and 
glance around with terrified eye as if expecting tlu 
earth to open, or the invoked deity to smite to dust 
the author of such fiendish imprecations. Under such 
exhortations, native stubbornness gave way, and the 
virtue of profanity was clearly vindicated in the eyes 
of the driver. 

Indeed, notwithstanding all that has been said re- 
oardino; vice and crime, I am not so sure that Califor- 
nia in her wickedest days was worse than the pseudo 
righteous states of the east and Europe. In the 
shameful pleasantries of the times there were counter- 
balancing virtues, which went far toward preserving 
the moral equilibrium. If iniquity here was more 
unblushing, there was less of cant and hypocrisy, less 


of covert deceit and pharisaical humbug, less of that 
white lying and envy and jealousy which constitutes 
the pabulum of older religious and fashionable societies. 
Loyalty to an honest and enlightened ideal is, after 
all, the truest morality. Ill-fitting forms, provoking 
dissimulation and falseness, keep the social pool always 
turbid. Experience tells us that wickedness, in greater 
or less degree, is inseparable from human nature ; to 
hide away the evil, and cover our wrong-doing with 
placid smiles, polished bearing, or sanctimonious coun- 
tenance, may not be, after all, the surest way of 
eradicating it. 

A world of ideas was here flung into a world of 
practise, and until right was ready, force must rule. 

Like the returning heroes of the Trojan war, every 
leader has his history and historian, each one of whom 
sought to outdo the rest in their relation of daring 
deeds and marvelous tales, all leaving far behind in 
this respect ^schylus and Agamemnon. 

Once when evening had stretched the shadows 
across the street, I saw a man of middle age, robust 
and proud, pouring into the bosom of a friend a tor- 
rent of sorrow, accompanied by bashful, agonizing 
tears. The cause of his grief I know not. It may 
have been the destruction of his hopes by fire, for on 
every side were the smoking cinders of a recent con- 
flagration which had laid hundreds low, and caused 
many a strong man to weep internally if not in actual 
tears. And who shall blame them, brave men though 
they be, for this is the third, or fourth, or fifth ruin 
with some of them, the third or fifth time fate has 
sent them forth with only their head and two hands 
to begin life anew. I did not stop to listen, gaze, or 
question. With grief such as this, no stranger inter- 

Yet to the disappointed man of toil I would say, 
yield thee not. Yet another blow, and another, and 
another. As long as thou canst strike, I care not 
for the result, thou art not overcome. As long as 

Cal. Int Poc. 21 


courage pulsates in the heart it matters not the outer 
conditions or success, the man hves and nothing can 
quench his energies. The strokes fall regularly and 
to the purpose. Better to sow and never reap than 
not to sow, for in sowing lies the spirit of increase 
more than in reaping. He who can always work, I 
care not for the result, is no failure. Work itself is 
life, progress, success. But alas! when courage casts 
off the man, and coward fear enters in and saps activ- 
ity, unstrings the nerves and weakens the mind and 
body, uncaging hope and relaxing the tendons that 
grapple difficulties, the poor wretch, though he live 
and eat and sleep happily as ever, is dead already. 
Work, work I say; never mind what comes of it, 

For of such is the kingdom of earth and heaven. 
For so are we made. Like the Wandering Jew, we 
cannot stop. Ever and onward we must march, march, 
march. There is no rest but the rest of rotting, and 
even in this there is evermore work, work. Hence, a 
man having lost his hold and become workless, is neither 
of this world nor of the next, but floats in a purga- 
torial abeyance worse than death. 

Weep, my good friend, if you will, there is nothing 
unmanly in tears. Despair not of him from whose 
sensitive or passionate nature adversity wrings tears: 
especially if they be tinctured by wrath or bitterness ; 
but despair rather of him who with pointless languisb- 
ment lives usque ad nauseam. Well directed eftbrt 
cannot always fail ; but if it so appears, still let an- 
ticipation wipe the brow of labor and triumphal visions 
sweeten healthful sleep. 

Among many both of city and country there was 
no fixed standard of morality. Each had been edu- 
cated in a different school, that is to say, those of them 
who had been taught morality at all ; each held a diff- 
erent tradition, or no tradition ; religion was a father's 
rod or a mother's tears, and law and justice were in 
their own right arm, so that, as with the Sophists 


of Plato's time, pleasure and pain, profit and loss, were 
about the only criteria of right and wrong ; and gold 
and brass were the only criteria of respectability. 
That unblushing energy which pushes men in where 
angels fear to tread, which so obscures the senses that 
one can scarcely see one's own failures, seemed at 
once, and almost unconsciously, to bear a man onward 
upon the topmost wave. If he fell he had no thought 
of anything but to get on his feet again, surely he 
would not lie and cry about it like a child. 

'^Many of my friends have left me," says the wait- 
ing, working one, ''have left me for the states. Of 
late, Sam Punches and others. A.nd as they left they 
pictured me of what they should see at home; of their 
coming friendly meetings, joys, and wet-eyed greet- 
ings, such as my heart had often told me should be 
mine the day I might again behold the lustrous scenes 
of youth. And I wonder if the grass will look as 
green, and the sun as brightly shine as fancy now pic- 
tures. Shall I see the faces that rise before me now, 
the forms and features photographed in my memory 
years ago, or will they seem strange to me, wry and 
wrinkled? Will I have merry meetings and heart- 
felt greetings, I wonder? Days are dead and many 
dark nights have sunk into the tomb since I bade my 
native hills good-bye. I see them as I left them, and 
they are waving me adieus : I wonder if the}^ all have 
changed, if I have changed. My beard has grown 
stubble, I grant, silver-gray mingles with the brown 
of my hair, yet my heart has not lost its buoyancy, nor 
my eye its brightness ; I can still laugh and love 
though I have felt what sorrow is. 

"Home shall see me one day, so the inward whis- 
per strikes my ear, and a mother's kiss shall call back 
childhood. Old of head but young of heart, a moth- 
ers's kiss shall scatter the silver gray hair and smooth 
and soften the fixed features; in a sister's embrace 
years of wanderings are lost. Then how soon my ab- 


sence and return botli alike will be forgotten. Some- 
tliini^ tells me I shall see them. 

" Will Barry I shall see ; my old playmate, school- 
mate, Will, J'th^s Achates. Will is married now, and 
he will talk to me of wife and little ones, as he would 
talk of an extra head, or arm, or leg. Wife and little 
ones I I wonder if Will has changed. Merry meet- 
ings and suppers; bright eyes, wimiing smiles, and 
soul-swelling music I Shall I meet one nearer still 
than sister or mother ; one w^ho, laying her head 
upon my breast, and tightly clasping me around shall 
make me swear to wander no more; wlio breathing rest 
into my soul, opens my eyes to beauties hitherto ob- 
scure, opens to my longings a j^assage outward and up- 
ward, and who fills the measure of my desires with 
her own satisfying self — lives she, and for me?" 

Millions and millions of such floating thoughts 
hover ever round the brain of the waiting, working 
one, nerving the arm and sustaining existence itself, 
filling the dark shaft with bright images, furnishing 
stuff for dreams. 

I never thought I should fancy the occupation of a 
pawn-broker, and yet I cannot see what there is about 
it that should necessarily render shop and shopman so 
obnoxious to Christian nostrils. It is said that their 
ox-eyed, hook - nosed and ugly-mouthed proprietors 
make their money through the necessities of the un- 
fortunate and poor. Granted, but who does not? 
Would you on that account close the comer grocery 
and the bakery ? Does not your banker acquire a 
pledge from his wearisome client before he deals out 
to him the ducats? Curse them for grinding the 
poor I Curse, then, all the world. Curse fathers for 
feeding their children bread earned by the sweat of 
hirelings ; curse mothers for pointing the finger of 
scorn to those pitiable wretches whose very existence 
is contamination to their untempted daughters. Is 
your purse-proud capitalist who would see a poor 


woman starve before lie would lend her five dollars on 
a dead husband's ring, any more the friend of human- 
ity than the grinding Jew who would ? So it is with 
many of our popular prejudices — sift them and you 
find no substance. 

Oh, my prophetic soul, mine uncle I Many a proud 
head has bowed beneath the symbolic balls for the 
first time in California. Could the pledges at the 
shops of San Francisco pawn-brokers rise up and 
speak, what tales they would tell ; of what sighs, and 
poverty, and struggles, and despair they would speak ; 
of what broken vows, of what heartless cruelty, of 
what devoted love and self-sacrifice, of what agoniz- 
ing deaths I What touching, silent eloquence in those 
worn and faded articles, many of them once pledges of 
affection, now pledges of necessity I 

Nothing smacked more strongly of the topsy turvy 
times, or was more characteristically Californian tlian 
these pawn -brokers' slio}>s. Ten per cent, a montli ; 
that was the rate charged, and the interest for one 
day was tlie same as for one month. Quick turns 
were likewise the rule, for the sharp-eyed Sh\lock re- 
ceived the right to sell i)le(]ges unredeemed at the ex- 
piration of one month. What a contrast tliere nmst 
be between pawn-brokers' pledges of different parts 
of the world. Here you see, scattered about the 
pawn-broker's boudoir, the materials for a first-class 
curiosity shop; guns, revolvers, bowie-knives, swords, 
dress coats, canjcl-hair sliawls, clocks, watches, dia- 
monds, meerschaum pipes, opera-glasses, books, gold- 
headed canes, fiounced dresses, pictures, and every 
conceivable article of value which is not too cumber- 
some or difficult of transportation. This temple of 
distress, the necessitous of everv class and caste ap- 
proach : the unsuccessful adventurer, the ruined game- 
ster, the bloated victim of dissipation. See that pale, 
broken-hearted widow approach with tremulous step. 
She is a novice still proud in her poverty. With un- 
easy glances at the passing witnesses of her disgrace, 


she enters a dimly-lighted, ill-ventilated room, steps 
up to an opening in the barrier of separation between 
customer and proprietor, similar to a post-office win- 
dow, and timidly lays upon the board perhaps a dia- 
mond ring, relic of happy days departed. A dark 
visaged man in greasy coat and faded smoking-cap 
from within seizes the jewel, and through glasses of 
the greatest magnifying power, critically scrutinizes 
it as if to read the sparkles of its soul. 

*'How much?" at length he asks, peering at his 
customer over the top of his spectacles. 

''Thirty dollars," replies the applicant, who wishes 
to borrow as little as possible so that the jewel may 
be the more easily redeemed. 

" No more than twenty," the man in spectacles 
briefly responds. The ring had cost a hundred dol- 
lars years ago when diamonds were not worth so 
much as now. But taking the coin and certificate 
which the man of money as a matter of course pre- 
sents, the victim of necessity departs, thinking ''when 
and how shall I redeem it?" 

Lines of travel were soon established and every 
facility offered the impatient gold-seekers for getting 
from place to place. Good wagon roads were marked 
out through the valleys which in the summer an- 
swered every purpose, but after the winter rains had 
thoroughly saturated the parched and porous soil a 
loaded wagon once off the beaten track sank to the 
hubs and must be unloaded and pried out as from a 
marsh. Throucyh the town the stasre thundered out' 
into the valley, over the broad plain^ up the ascent, 
through rugged and sometimes more than suspicious 
defiles, then down by gradual and winding descent to 
where the half-stripped miners planted their heavy 
blows through the hot livelong day. The river steam- 
boats entered into the spirit of the times, and now 
and then there was strong opposition. Then might 
be heard opposition runners at the wharf crying " One 
dollar to Sacramento by the magnificent steamer 


Senator, the finest and fastest boat that ever turned a 
wheel from Long Wharf, sound and strong, with mir- 
rors, mahogany doors and silver hinges — one dollar to- 
night — feather pillows and curled hair-mattresses, 
eight young-lady passengers and not a nigger from 
stem to stern of her. All the dead languages spoken, 
and all for one dollar!" ''Low fares and no monop- 
oly," yells another, "no more rotten bottoms and 
bursting boilers, and beds with bushels of bed-bugs 
and fleas ! " 

In August 1853 the fare to Sacramento by boat 
was one dollar in the cabin and twenty -five cents on 
deck. Opposition steamers flaunted their banners, and 
Long Wharf presented a stirring scene. He was a 
luckless fellow who fell unprepared into the hands of 
the runners. Amidst cries of "no imposition prac- 
tised by this line," and cursings on all sides of combi- 
nations, monopolies, and oppositions, he is fenced in 
by the philistines, and nolens voleiis he is hurried to 
the boat, whose representatives are for the moment in 
the ascendant. 

At the various landings along the rivers, stages 
take up the passengers and whirl them on toward the 
mines, and when wheeled vehicles are stopped by the 
rugged barriers of the Sierra foothills, saddle mules 
stand ready to hurry them on to their destination. 

Out of every necessity is born a new phase of 
character ; and the Californian stage-driver — the 
whip par excellence of early times, now unhappily no 
more — is not the least orio^inal and fantastic — of the 
great conglomeration. Culled from the scum, with a 
swaggering air, a rough manner, and uncleanly mouth, 
he is not without heart, conscience, and deportment. 
He is a lord in his way, the captain of his craft, the 
fear of timid passengers, the admiration of stable- 
boys, and the trusty agent of his employer. He 
prides himself in being an expert in his profession, 
to which all other occupations and professions are 
subordinate; all must sooner or later fall into his 


hands, for to this end towns are built and men and 
women migrate hither and thither. 

An offer of money as a gratuity would be received 
as a deadly insult, but he will graciously accept a 
cigar or a glass of liquor. Stage coaches are levelers 
of distinction, and the judge or governor on the box 
beside the driver is his equal, if not indeed his in- 
ferior; for can a man of law or politics drive a stage? 
He who travels by steamer or stage must resign his 
liberty, and place his destiny for the time being in 
the hands of the august commander. Meeting on 
the road, the friendly drivers halt and hold a confer- 
ence, mingling with their classic speech the most 
refined blasphemy. In places of danger the stage- 
driver manages his team with the coolest dexterity ; 
but he will not go one inch out of his way to save 
his passengers from the fear of perdition. Sometimes 
he sees safety in speed, and performs wonderful feats 
in circumventing obstacles ; again he trims his boat 
or empties out the cargo. 

Two styles of vehicles were used, the Concord coach, 
carrying nine inside and two or five beside the driver 
outside, and the mud-wagon, of larger or smaller di- 
mensions according to roads and tiaffic. The best 
horses, four or six in number, were employed, the stage 
proprietor, like all others of quick perception and ac- 
tive energy who came to California, soon learning 
wherein lies true economy. Over a good road, ten 
miles an hour were readily made. 

Before the hotel and stage office in Sacramento, at 
dawn of day, were drawn up side by side, all fronting 
one way, twenty or thirty coaches, each behind four 
restive horses, at whose heads stood grooms holding 
them in check. Men of every nation and degree, each 
with a roll of blankets, and many carrying a rifle, elbow 
their way from a candle-light breakfast through a labyr- 
inth of horses and wheels, with lighted pipes and bottles 
of rum, seeking their respective coaches. The driver 
mounts his seat, casts a critical glance over the rig- 


ging, swears at the horses, pohtely directs his atten- 
dant to make some change, gathers up the ''ribbons," 
and turning half round bellows to the crowd, ''AH 
aboard for Brighton, Mormon Island, Mud Springs, 
and Hangtown I " In times of opposition, the confu- 
sion was increased ten-fold by runners. " Now, gen- 
tlemen, this way for Nevada; take you there in five 
hours; last chance to-day for Coloma and George- 
town, Auburn and Yankee Jim's!'' 

Soon all is ready, and off they go, amidst shouts 
and cracking of whips, and clatter of horses' feet, and 
the rattling: of stag^es, throug^h the town, and out into 
the fresh morning air, into tlie vastness of the open 
sea-like plain, diving through the long grass, under 
the wide-spread oaks, down into gulches, across 
streams, and up into the hilly country of the mines. 
All is exhiliration and mei riment. 

Round the broad streets of Marysville gaily-decked 
horses before brilliantly painted coaches snort and 
prance in the early morning, while the office clerks 
stand beside drivers and sliout, " Here ye are for 
Brown's Valley, Long Bar, Rough and Ready, and 
Grass Valley." In like manner the Stockton herald 
proclaims, " Knights Ferry, Chinese Camp, James- 
town, and Sonora." 

Before the United States Hotel, Nevaaa City, one 
morning in May 1855, stood two rival stages for 
Forest City. One passenger only had put in an 
appearance when the agents for the contending lines 
came up and opened the business of the day. The 
solitary passenger they found seated in the stage. 

"What fare are you paying in there?" asked the 
agent for the opposition. 

" Five dollars," was the reply. 

"Get out, and I'll carry you for four." The pas- 
senger, thinking it was an easy way to earn a dollar 
complies and takes his seat in the opposite stage. 

" Here, come back," exclaimed the other agent, 
*' I'll take you up for three." 


The passenger is but fairly reseated in the first- 
stage, when an offer of two dollars tumbles him out 
again, and an offer of one dollar sends him back. 
But the opposition is not to be beaten in this way. 

'* Well, old fellow," he finally puts in, '* sorry to 
make you so much trouble, but get back here and I 
will carry you for nothing, pay for your dinner, and 
give you all the whiskey you can drink on the way I " 

I will cite one instance showing the behavior of 
these knights of the whip, under trying circum- 
stances. Upon the box of the coach leaving Forest 
City for Nevada the 23d of July, 1855, were seated 
two men, members of the Jehu brotherhood, one of 
whom was driving. Passing under the limb of a 
tree which seemed in some way to have settled and 
dropped down since the last trip, the top of the stage 
was torn entirely off, and the driver thrown to the 
ground. Of the eleven passengers one was thrown 
upon the root and three jumped to the ground. The 
crash of the breakino^ vehicle frio;htened the horses, 
which started off at full speed, dragging the driver 
some distance before they freed themselves from his 
grasp. The horses were now dashing along the road 
at a furious rate, wholly without control, and the in- 
mates of the stage apparently helpless. At this junc- 
ture the man who occupied the seat next the driver, 
deliberately got down upon the pole, walked to the 
end of it, gathered up the reins, returned safely to 
his seat, and finally succeeded in stopping the horses 
without further damage or loss of life. 

It was when the long routes were established across 
the plains, however, that staging assumed its most 
gigantic proportions ; one by the way of Salt Lake 
and the other through New Mexico and Arizona — 
two thousand miles in twenty days and nights, stop- 
ping only to change horses and for meals. The road 
across the Sierra Nevada was fearfully picturesque, 
and going down the mountain sides was anything 
but quieting to unsteady nerves. Lighting a cigar 



and putting on the break and lashing his snorting 
horses to a keen run, the skillful Jehu, with a diaboli- 
cal leer, would send his coach dashing round precipice 
and craggy wall on a thread of chiseled-out road, 
swaying and sliding to within a few inches of death, 
and dodging the overhanging rocks and trees, diving 
in and out of ruts and whirling round on the verge 
of chasms where but for the timely cry of " Sit up to 
windward," horses, coach, and company would be 
hurled into the abyss below. More than once the 
thing has happened, when upon a drunken driver, a 
slippery road, a fallen tree or boulder unexpectedly 
encountered in rounding some sharp turn, was laid 
the blame. 

At first, between the several towns and camps 
there were no wagon roads, but only mule trails ; so 
that among the hills and in the mountains, provisions 
and other supplies had to be carried to the miners 
strapped to aparejos upon the backs of mules. Thus 
"packing" became a large business, and was one of 
the features of the times. Mules for the purpose 
were driven up from Sonora and Sinaloa, and Mexi- 
cans were chiefly employed as vaqueros or muleteers. 
Making up their cargoes in loads of from two to four 
hundred p ju^ds according to the roads and the ability 
of the respective animals, each load was evenly bal- 
anced and firmly lashed on. At sunrise or there- 
abouts all was ready for the start, when an old horse 
with a cow-bell at his neck and a boy. on his back led 
off, and the tinkling of this bell the mules would 
follow day and night. Three or five Mexicans on 
saddle-mules would follow a train of twenty or fifty 
mules re-adjusting loads, assisting the fallen, and 
urging on the whole with loud cries of ''upa! mula, 
arriba! arriba!" 

The Mexicans are the best vaqueros in the world. 
They are as familiar with the habits and idiosyncra- 
sies of the horse and mule as is the Arab of those of 
the camel, and they sit upon the saddle as if part 


of the animal. A loaded train will travel about 
twenty -five miles a day. The favorite camping- 
ground is a grassy spot near a stream of clear water ; 
there at night the Mexicans dismount and un[)ack. 
Bringing up one mule after another, a blind is thrown 
over the animal's eyes to make it stand (juietly, then 
with one man on each side the hide ropes are rapidly 
untied, and the cargoes, consisting of sacks of Hour, 
sugar, barley, and bacon, boxes of tobacco, dried fruit, 
and miscellaneous groceries, and kegs of liquors, each 
kept separately, are ranged in a row with the aparejo 
or pack-saddle in a parallel row, each saddle directly 
opposite its load, with the girth and saddle-cloth be- 
longing to it folded and laid upon the top. The 
mule's back is then examined, and if galled, remedies 
are applied to the spot, and the tired animal is turned 
loose to graze. In the morning the mules are driven 
up and packed in like manner, and on they go. 

On the whole the cunning little animal bears a 
good character. Though sometimes stubborn, it is 
as one possessed of the devil or overtaken by a fault 
rather than willfully wicked, for in his ordinary mood 
he is very patient and faithful. Though in some re- 
spects his sensibilities may be somewhat blunted, he 
nevertheless has a keen moral sense. He guards the 
load entrusted him with intelligence and faithfulness, 
beintr careful not to knock it ag^ainst the trunks of 
trees, stooping low to let it pass under an overhang- 
ing limb, planting his feet firmly in dangerous places, 
eyeing the rocks that jut out over the trail round the 
mountain side, lest in an evil moment his pack striking 
one, he be thrown from the narrow ])ath, and hurled 
trembling into the abyss below. The moment the 
pack is loose or anything drops from it he stops, and 
no matter how hungry or weary he may be he is al- 
lowed little time to eat until his work is finished. 

Even in those days dreams were dreamed and proph- 
ecies prophesied of the time when San Francisco 


should be but five days' journey from New York, and 
the summer houses of the Gothamites should bask on 
the Pacific slope ; of the time when the shadows of 
gigantic trees should fall on mansions glittering like 
temples; and in the vistas of long colonnades, fringed 
and rainbowed by countless fountains, should stand 
statues worthy of Phydias, and should walk a people 
worthy to have been his models. These new Greeks 
were the Californians of the twentieth or thirtieth 
centuries. Every woman is then to be pure as Diana, 
wise as the unborn goddess, and fair as she whose 
beauty awed the judges of Athens. The men are to 
be thewed like Hercules, shaped like Apollo, and 
wise as Plato. 



The world is full of hopeful analogies, and handsome, dubious eggs, called 

— Oeorge Eliot. 

Business lines and methods were not definitely de- 
termined. You might buy butter in a hardware store 
and dry goods at a liquor shop. 

When Purser Forbes, of the steamer California, 
set out to purchase stores, he ransacked the place, 
picking up here and there what he could find, paying 
usually a dollar a pound for provisions ; whereupon, 
becoming somewhat disheartened, he dropped into a 
restaurant, where, for a mutton chop, with poor bread, 
and still poorer coffee, and no butter, he was made to 
pay $3 50. Thereupon he thought it must be a great 
country, and so went on with his purchases. 

Business was conducted on high -pressure principles. 
On Long Wharf there was a candy shop, the owner 
of which, after six months' business failed for $100,000. 
So quickly after a fire was building begun, that a water 
bucket would have to be used before the new timbers 
were laid. 

Since the days of the Medici, who ranked high 
among the class of Lombard money-changers, the in- 
signia of the three golden balls, derived from their 
armorial bearings, hang over the entrance to the pawn- 
broker's shop. 

Frenchmen were the first to raise the occupation of 
boot-blacking into an art. The cleaning, and damp- 
ening, and plastering, and polishing were not done by 



women, as Dibdin, in his bibliographical tour, pictures 
it all in the streets of Caen. The few women there 
were in those days were used to blacken characters, 
not boots. 

Much has been said by a class of persons whose en- 
thusiasm overshadows their judgment, of the breadth 
and bigness of everything Californian, as if size were 
worth, and bigness, greatness. 1 take no special pride 
in the size of California's turnips, nor in the amount 
of gold riddled from the placers ; I rejoice in Califor- 
nia's beauties, for beauty is a thing to rejoice in ; I 
bathe in her mellow, misty light, and drink her spark- 
ling air, and rejoice in her capabilities, in the intelligence 
of her men and women — all that is good in them ; her 
frailties have no attractions for me, her sins are hate- 
ful to me. 

By midsummer, 1850, fifty ships were in port, upon 
whose cargoes the owners could not pay freight, and put 
up at auction the ship's consignees would buy them in. 

Traffic as here displayed, so loud, so large, so errat- 
ic, was the very irony of speculation; and for long 
afterward California was famous for wild ventures, 
and higli rates of labor and interest ; yet it was clear- 
ly enough demonstrated tliat such speculation may 
prevail unattended by general financial convulsions in 
a community whose circulation is purely gold and sil- 
ver. The recuperative powers of the people after a fire, 
flood, or drought, were marvellous. An isolated com- 
munity with a metallic currency tends to the originating 
and building up of private banks, and though a specu- 
lative inflated condition of things appears at intervals 
in a rapid spasmodic progress, the failure of any local 
or incidental element of prosperity, though affecting 
in some degree every member of society, involved in 
ruin comparatively few. Nevertheless, the country, 
and all about it was old and extravagant, the people 
and their doincrs beincr no less whimsical and bizarre 
than the streets and the houses of the towns. Over 
the sudden and wonderful development of wealth. 


commerce in tlie young metropolis had become crazed. 
A few actual transactions whicli I will cite will illus- 
trate the diversities and vagaries of trade better than 
any general description. 

Tliere were not lacking men, and a large class of 
them at one time on California and Pine streets in San 
Francisco, who were free and frolicking enough. During 
the height of the mining stock excitement the board of 
brokers boiled like a geyser cauldron. It was a queer 
fraternity this brotherhood of air-beating knights; 
suroincr and screechinir in their strucrcrles for commis- 
sions, which, when obtained, were pitched hither and 
thither with the reckless indifference common to all 
kinds of gambling. The champagne seller, the cigar 
seller, the jeweller, and livery-stable keeper, all came 
in for their share. Merrily these brokers made their 
money, and merrily they spent it. Most innocent 
were they in their broad and philanthropic egotism. 
In their eyes the universe revolved round their board- 
room ; and the man who hammered the anvil and 
yelled in well-recognized tones of superior discordance, 
was the Great and only One, the First Cause and the 
Last. Their creed and catechism were easy affairs. 
*' I believe in the only one and respectable board of 
brokers," the former began, referring to the " big 
board," as distinguished from two or three smaller 
boards, whose members in the eyes of the aristocratic 
band were vulgar 'parvenus, and bad society; and to 
every such question as "Who made you?" and 
"What is the chief end of man? "the answer was 
"A broker," "to be a broker," and the like. Their 
gehenna, which though large was not a very hot one, 
because of their uniform kind-heartedness, was filled 
with that vast horde of unfortunates whom fate had 
denied the blessedness of being brokers; these and 
bad members were refused admission to the heavenly 

It was an exceedingly nerve-splitting occupation. 
The hours of business were few, but the clatter and 


bang of hammered iron and human voices raised to 
a pitch of wild phrensy made the excitement fear- 
fully wearing. The calling of a stock was sometimes 
as the flinging of a carcass to a mixed pack of raven- 
ous hyenas, wolves, or other bloody or bell owing- 
beasts. Then it behooved them to be quick ; for 
often an instant of time was thousands of dollars for 
and against certain interested ones. The fashion of 
their buying and selling was no less senseless than it 
was infernal ; but such a thing as questioning the 
manner of their calling never occurred to them. On 
the contrary it was their pride, their glory. 

" One of the wealthiest stock-brokers of San Fran- 
cisco to day," writes one, " formerly peddled potatoes 
along the same streets where he can now count his own 
buildings by the dozen. Another well-known resi- 
dent, then a lawyer, now a judge in one of the courts, 
worked for several weeks as cook in a restaurant. 
Overhearing one of the patrons of the place complain 
that he could not find a lawyer to take up a case he 
had in court, he proffered his services, took off his 
apron and went before the court, won the case, 
charged a fee of $200, and was retained for two other 
cases before leaving the court-room. A certain col- 
lege professor who went out from New York in '49, 
while working with a shovel on the public streets, 
overheard a Frenchman trying to arrange some busi- 
ness with a wealthy real-estate dealer. Neither of 
them could understand the other. The professor 
leaned upon his shovel and explained the meaning of 
the Frenchman. The matter was arranged in a 
moment. ' Drop that shovel and take off your over- 
halls. You 're just the man I want,' bluffly said the 
real-estate man; and the next morning the professoi- 
commenced his career as business interpreter at 
twenty dollars a day." 

Once in a while a staid old merchant from Boston 
or New York, braved the dangers and disgusts of the 
voyage, to look after some consignment or other busi- 

C'AL. Int. Poc. 22 


ness, when he would be struck dumb with astonish- 
ment at the reckless whirlpool of business that sur- 
rounded him. He would see the shop-keeper sweep 
with his arm into a bag silver coin stacked upon his 
counter in payment for goods, as not worth the count- 
ing ; he would see screaming auctioneers crying off 
goods to whittling, tobacco-juice-spirthig bidders, 
who between jokes would buy whole cargoes, ship 
and all with terrible sang froid. 

Thus the city-builders carried their work forward 
in wild irregular spasms but ever onward, unceasingly 
unhesitatingly. Often the arrival of a vessel, the 
completion of a wharf, or some such excuse would 
double the price of property within a few days. 

Again and agahi one wonders how it is that so 
many of the shrewd and enterprising so soon became 
bankrupt. With such foresight, such practical com- 
mon sense, uniting energy, and golden opportunities, 
all as it would seem wisely applied and earnestly em- 
braced, it was pitiful to see them later, all there were 
left of them, or well-nigh all, wandering, the streets 
that they had made, by houses they had built but 
now no longer theirs, moving silently and sadly over 
long-familiar ground, yet amidst scenes strange to 
them though fruits of their own untiring energy — 
wandering thus alone unrecognized skeletons of their 
former selves, while a new generation of millionaires 
flaunted its wealth in their faces. It was sad to see 
their wrecked hopes reconstructed by men of lesser 
worth, whose proud argosies bore heavily upon their 
slender craft ; to see the commerce of a great metropo- 
lis, once their own, ruled by upstart speculators; to 
see their sand-hill home, with its acres of garden and 
barn-yard, become thick with magnificent mansions, 
whose lords were lucky gamblers, whose parvenu mis- 
tresses flouted and overshadowed their humble wives, 
while they themselves plodded quietly through their 
declining years, happy indeed if wife, and children, 
and food, and shelter, might be left to them. 


Strikes among mechanics began early in California. 
In July 1853 the carpenters of San Francisco com- 
plained among themselves of the irregularity of prices 
for day's work, the rate ruling from ten dollars down 
to next to nothing. No one knew what to charge ; 
each was fearful of asking too much or not enough, 
, and so they fixed wages at eight dollars a day, some- 
[ what above the average of what they had been get- 
ting. On the 18th, those determined to hold out and 
not work except for the wages named, to the number 
of about 400, held a meeting on the plaza, and after- 
ward formed a procession and marched through the 
; town with banners streaming and music playing. Had 
wages been double, it is likely they would have been 
just as dissatisfied. Laborer's strikes are a melan- 
choly commentary upon the intelligence of working 
men, who fail utterly to see that wages are regulated 
by the inevitable law of supply and demand, and that 
any attempt to forestall this law reacts upon them- 

The 'longshoremen determined to have six dollars 
for nine hours work, instead of five dollars for ten 
liours. Perambulating the wharves to the number of 
about 300, they forced all who were at work to join 
them, using threats and violence when entreaty failed. 
The wharves for the time were almost deserted ; but 
next day the stevedores having acceded to their de- 
mands, the men went to work, happ}' in tlie thought 
of another dollar a day to spend and another hour to 
spend it in. At the same time the calkers and ship- 
carpenters demanded and received ten dollars a day. 
The firemen and coal passers then struck, the former 
demanding $100 a month, and the latter $7o. The 
masons of Sacramento also demanded the same wages 
received by their fellow-craftsmen of the bay, which 
was ten dollars a day. The hod-carriers of Stockton, 
in place of five dollars a day, struck for six dollars. 
In San Francisco the system worked so well, that the 
masons whose wages had just been raised to ten dol- 


lars, on the 1 7th of August, paraded the streets in a 
body, and refused to work for less than twelve dollars 
a day. 

During the first five years subsequent to the dis- 
covery of gold, the gold-dust trade underwent man}^ 
changes. Prior to 1849 the ruling price at San Fran- 
cisco was fourteen dollars an ounce, and in the mines 
much less. It was once sold at auction for twelve 
dollars. Afterward the rate was fixed and maintained 
at sixteen dollars an ounce. Due attention was not 
paid by merchants to the quality or cleanliness of the 
dust, and many miners were not careful to remove all 
the black saud. The scales used were also not always 
the nicest, nor the weiujhts most correct. The crold 
from central California was mostly virgin gold; 
but that which was later thrown upon the market 
from the mines of Mariposa, Kern river and Fresno, 
was of inferior quality. This gave rise to a system 
of adulteration, which could not be easily detected by 
purchasers. In time assay offices were established to 
reduce the mass of the precious dust to a determined 
value before shipment ; this, together with the stimu- 
lating traffic by large competing banking-houses, ad- 
vanced the price of clean dust first to $17, and after- 
wards to $17 50 an ounce, this being the average. 
The proceeds of some mines were, however, sold as 
low as $14, and those of others as high as $20. The 
gold-dust trade finally fell into the hands of four large 
houses, which a little later shipped only bars with the 
true value stamped on them. 

In April, 1851, bankers agreed to receive on deposit 
no California coin other than that issued by Mofiat 
and Company, who were the only ones faithful in their 
valuation, and had, moreover, made provision to re- 
deem the coin issued. Until the establishment of the 
mint at San Francisco, merchants suffered because of 
the exclusion of California coin from circulation. They 
could not refuse to receive it without injury to their 


trade, and generally had much of it on their hands. 
Some foreign coins began to circulate at the value put 
upon them by the United States government. At 
last, to obviate difficulties, the legislature passed a law 
making it a criminal oiFence, punishable by fine and 
imprisonment, for coiners to neglect stamping upon 
their coin its true value, or failing to redeem it from 
the holders thereof on demand. 

In October 1852 news came that the federal gov- 
ernment had ordered that the fifty-dollar slugs or in- 
gots should not be received for duties at the custom 
house. This was a serious blow, at a time when coin 
was very scarce. Legal coins at once advanced two 
per cent. Though that order was coupled with a 
promise to establish immediately a mint, the people 
were not satisfied. 

The bank failures of 1854 and the political corrup- 
tion of 1855, hastened a commercial crisis which had 
been brev/ing for a year or two previous. The mone- 
tary cataclysm of 1848-52, was followed by a reaction 
resulting from various causes combined, to-wit: in- 
crease of a non-productive population, greater labor to 
extract gold from the earth, high-pressure life and 
reckless extravagance, a succession of disastrous floods 
and fires, and over-trading. Hundreds of merchants 
failed and involved hundreds of others in their fall. 
Many failed as many as three times and started anew, 
others took subordinate positions or drank themselves 
to death. Not one in ten of the San Francisco mer- 
chants of 1849, was doing business in 1855. Fifteen 
hundred healthy men, of every intellectual calibre, 
found themselves without occupation or means of live- 
lihood. California's credit was now at a low ebb 
abroad. The population did not then increase at all. 
Real estate was so low that there was scarcely any 
sold. Since the fire of 1851, San Francisco saw no 
gloomier day than that following the suspension of 
Page, Bacon, and Company, announced on the 2 2d of 
February, 1855. 



The San Francisco brand i mint, in 1857, was robbed 
of ten or fifteen thousand dollars by the coiner's head 
cutter, William Bein, a Belgian. Bein was arrested 
the 19th of August, confessed the crime, and gave up 
to the United States most of the proceeds of his crime. 
The gold taken was in blanks and clippings, and the 
circumstance which aroused suspicion was the deposit, 
by a banking house, of certain small, rough, gold bars 
of standard mint value. Bein was promptly convicted. 
Others implicated in mint swindles were arrested 
shortly after. Isador and Henry Blum were brought 
up on a charge of conspiracy against T. A. Szabo, in 
attempting to extort money from him, believing him 
a mint-defaulter and in their power. During the ad 
ministration of President Pierce, Augustin Haraszthy 
was appointed assay er, and later melter and refiner of 
the San Francisco branch mint, resigning these po- 
sitions in 1857; he afterwards built the metallurgical 
works which have been of nmch service to the com- 
munity, and are still in operation, receiving also patents 
for improved processes in the refining of gold. 

Californians early determined that as mind and 
manners were here free, money should be free also. 
Dante could have found in California a better answer 
to the question why usury offends divine goodness, 
than the silly one Virgil gave him. It was in the 
realms below that the two were sagely discoursing, 
and the sage and master answered that in Genesis it 
is written that man is to work and multiply, and that 
the usurer thwarts nature by taking money without 
working for it. Good reasoning that may be in hades, 
but it sounds silly in California. Our first answer is that 
usury does not offend God; our second that money 
like any other commodity is regulated in its price by 
the immutable law of supply and demand, and is 
worth what it will bring in the market. If a person 
finds it profitable to borrow money at ten per cent a 
month, why should he not be permitted to do it ? 
If he can get it for less he will not pay that ; if he 


cannot make it profitable at that rate he will not 
borrow it. No greater absurdity stands upon the 
statute books of civilized nations than laws compell- 
ing men to loan their money for less than it is worth. 
They might as well pass laws compelling merchants 
to sell their wares for less than their value. 

On the statute-books of all enlightened countries, 
from the days of Shylock to the present time, the 
usury law has been obsolete, and the idea of foisting 
such a piece of antiquated nonsense upon the people 
of California was not to be thought of. They wanted 
no laws regulating the price of the use of money, 
they said, any more than laws regulating the price of 
flour or city lots. Men are supposed to know their 
own business best; one, what he can afford to pay 
for the use of money, and another what rate of inter- 
est he can afford to loan it at. There is no more 
reason for a legislature to pass laws regulating the 
interest of money, than that it should frame sumptu- 
ary laws which we all admit would be a step back- 
ward. At that time particularly, the chief staple of 
California was the metal of which money was made, 
and her business men of all others should know that 
this as well as any other product is liable to fluctua- 
tions according to the supply and demand. 

If the merchant, manufacturer, or miner, can aflbrd 
to pay high wages and high interest, it shows that 
the country is so prosperous and his enterprise so 
profitable that he is justified in paying high for capi- 
tal and labor. In times of panic or stringency aris- 
ing from overtrading or extravagance the case is 
different; but it is not au:ainst such continorencies 
that a usury law aims to provide. The object is to 
invade a man's private affairs when laissez faire is 
better. Besides, admittintj the existence of an evil, 
usury laws instead of curing it only aggravate it. In 
the place of securing the lender a return of his money 
with tlie interest agreed on by law, it only forces him 
to resort to fraud in loaning his money, and by weak- 


ening his security to throw a heavier burden upon 
the borrower. Almost all laws made to protect bor- 
rowers of money react on the borrower, the lender 
having the advantage. The suspension of several 
banks threw the wheels of finance generally off the 
track. Confidence in other banking houses was im- 
paired ; the solvency of merchants was suspected. No 
man felt that his ducats were safe unless he had 
them in his own possession. 

Likewise the effect upon the people of the suspen- 
sion of the two great express companies was much 
greater than that of all the banks combined. There 
was not a town of any consequence in the interior or on 
the coast from San Diego to Puget Sound, where 
one, or most generally both of these companies did 
not have offices. There thousands of miners and labor- 
ers had deposited their little all, preparatory to remit- 
ting to their friends at the east; they had there laid 
by a little for a, rainy day, a nest egg, passage-money 
home, in fact their all, the result of years of hard 
labor — thousands, I say, throughout the length and 
breadth of the land, saw their money and their hopes 
thus suddenly cast away. 

And if credits during the flush times were freely 
given, as a rule debts were promptly paid. Business 
was done upon honor. There was no law ; away 
from the larger towns there were no pretensions in 
the way of tribunals for the collection of debts. 
Had there been such they would have received little 
patronage. If the debtor was ill and unable to work, 
why molest him ? Poverty, there was none. When 
every rivulet and ravine yielded large returns to the 
application of pick and pan, he who was able to wield 
these implements could not be called poor. If the 
debtor was a rascal, and would not pay when he 
could, a knife would cut the difficulty, or a pistol-ball 
reach the wrong quicker than the law. 

In the first flush of business upon the new Ameri- 
can high-pressure principle, after gold had been dis- 


covered but before sufficient time had elapsed for 
cargoes to arrive from a distance, when money was 
plenty and prices had advanced in some instances a 
thousand per cent, the trick was to get goods, not to 
sell them. The two chief rival firms were Charles L. 
Ross, and Howard & Melius, each of which kept a 
well-manned boat ready on the instant to shoot out to- 
ward the Golden Gate, on the approach of any mer- 
chant vessel, so as to forestall competitors in securing 
stock. To this end a sharp lookout was kept, as we 
may easily imagine, and every means adopted at once 
to catch the first view of the incoming vessels and 
blind the eyes of the others to the welcome sight. It 
happened one opaque, misty morning that the fog 
lifted for a moment only, just long enough for Ross' 
sentinel to see looming seaward a magnificent brig 
whose white sails in the vision seemed to fill the whole 
ocean. Ross and his crew were soon afloat, pulling 
hard in that direction. So was the rival boat, for 
the watchers had been watched, and such movements 
were well understood. The advantage, however, was 
with Ross, who beside having the start, knew where 
tlie vessel lay ; and by pulling stoutly out of course 
and then escaping them in the fog, he threw his com- 
petitors off the scent, found the brig, crawled up the 
sides to the deck, and as coolly as possible after the 
fancy of Yankee traders, saluted the captain and 
opened negotiations. "What ye got?" demanded 
Ross. "Waal," the captain began, "there's some 
woolen shirts, a hundred and fifty or two hundred 

dozen " "Stop a moment," exclaimed Ross who 

plainly heard the sound of oars approaching every 
moment nearer, "what'll you take for everything on 
board?" " Oh, I guess you are joking," simpered the 
skipper. "No, I am not joking," said Ross, drawing 
from his pocket a handful of yellow gold. "What 
advance on your invoices will you take for all the 
merchandise in your ship ? " The skipper pondered, 
not failing to notice the rapidly increasing noise- of 


oars, this sharp-witted Boston captain; he pondered 
as he eyed the New York man thus met on this 
western side. It was a long proceeding, carefully se- 
lecting and laying in this cargo, in which twenty or 
more shippers were interested, and guiding it safely 
through divers-tempered winds, over 16,000 miles of 
ocean, to this very far-away port — it was a long pro- 
ceeding to be disposed of summarily, for three months 
would have been a short time ordinarily in which to 
have sold the cargo. Three months ; and fifty per 
cent, would have been regarded as a good round 
profit. '' Come, captain, if you want to trade, and I 
take it that is what you are here for," said Ross, now 
growing a little nervous, *' how much advance, and 
the money down?" The skipper looked him steadily 
in the eye, glanced significantly at Howard who was 
climbing up the side of the vessel, and answered slow- 
ly, ''one hundred per cent." ''I'll take it,' Ross 
said. "This will bind the bargain," he added, as he 
passed over the handful of money. "And I'll make 
those woollen shirts pay for all the damned truck 
here," said the purchaser, as he regained his boat, 
swearing thus mildly not through lack of feeling, but 
because he was in training for a position as teacher in 
Wheeler's forth-coming Sabbath -school. 

And the gentle Brannan, Sam ; he learned to flaunt 
the Mormon's money bravely at the auctions. Sam 
delighted in auctions. Never was he so happy as 
when perched on a high box smoking a long cheroot, 
and sinking the small blade of his sharp knife into 
the soft pine. Gillespie was then at the head of the 
China trade, and the disposal of cargoes by auction 
was daily gaining favor. It saved so much trouble 
in the way of handling, and warehousing, and charg- 
ing, and collecting, and prices were often better than 
when jobbed out. One day, pursuant to notice, Gil- 
lespie put up a cargo of tea to sell. At the hour, 
there upon his box sat Sam, smoking, and spitting, 
and whittling, thinking perhaps of the extravagant 


price of wives in the market, and how much it would 
cost to people Zion at current rates ; thinking of the 
temple to the living God which he was to rear in the 
wilderness; thinking of anything except lucre, and 
the price of tea. " Ten chests with the privilege," 
began Gillespie. '* I will sell not less than ten chests, 
the purchaser to have the privilege of taking as much 
more at the price sold as he pleases." Around the 
open boxes merchants were blowing and crushing, 
and smelling and tasting; Sam sat serene. '^And 
how much am I offered? " Gillespie went on. '* Thirty- 
five cents, tliirty-five ; forty ; and five ; fifty ; fifty-five 
cents I am offered ; sixty. Are you all done gentle- 
men ? Sixty cents, going ; sixty cents, once ; sixty 
cents, twice ; third and last time — " '' Sixty-one I " 
came from tlie top of the box. *' Sixty-one, sixty-one 
cents, and sold. How nmch will you take Mr Bran- 
nan?" Now there was tea enough in that ship to 
give every grocer in town a good stock, and the bid- 
ders present had all so reckoned, and had deemed it 
folly running it up to a high price when they could 
just as well buy it low. The tea was then worth in 
the market one dollar and a quarter, or two dollars 
and a half, or five dollars, according as it was held and 
controlled. Brannan was the heaviest buyer there ; 
he might take fifty chests out of the five hundred. 
So they reasoned, and were content that Sam, the 
ravenous, should first satisfy himself Imagine, there- 
fore their chagrin as in answer to the auctioneer's 
question, "How nmch will you take Mr Brannan," 
they heard come from the top of the box, where the 
eyes were still bent on the continued whittling, in 
notes like the snarl of a coyote, ''The whole damned 

The prices of provisions were exceedingly unsteady, 
and those accustomed early in the morning to enter 
the markets with their baskets on their arms, for few 
delivered what they sold in those days, soon learned 
not to be surprised at anything in the way of prices. 


One day George Eggleston stood behind a box of 
fine fresh eggs talking with Bob Parker from whom 
he rented his stand when a customer came up. 
*' How much are eggs?" ''Six dollars." "What, a 
box ? " " No, a dozen." " Give me a dozen." Some- 
thing in the little trade struck Parker, who delighted 
in waggery, as a little ludicrous ; probably it was the 
indifference with which the customer bought eggs, 
paying as cheerfully six dollars a dozen as six dollars 
a box. And the plot of a little joke instantly arose 
in his mind. '' George," said he, when the customer 
had gone, '' you will never make anything in this 
business if you don't keep better posted in prices." 
" How so ?" demanded Eggleston. " Why, here you 
are selling eggs at six dollars a dozen, when the regu- 
lar price everywhere is eighteen dollars," responded 
Parker. "But I know where I can get all I want at 
three dollars," said Eggleston. '' That's it," replied 
Parker. " You haven't the business sense that tells 
a man how to make avail of his opportunities." 
Parker then turned to speak to a friend ; but one ear 
wajr open to Eggleston's doings as a dapper little man 
of family stepped briskly up and began negotiations 
"Hello, George, those are nice eggs; how do ye 
sell 'em." "Well," replied Eggleston, somewhat 
slowly and demurely, '*eggs are a little up this morn- 
ing; those are eighteen dollars a dozen." "All right," 
said the little man, " I'll take two dozen." And he 
laid down the thirty-six dollars far less grudgingly 
than the average Boston man would have given 
thirty-six cents for an equal quantity of the same 

Potatoes were scarce and high at San Francisco 
during the winter of 1848-9, and as there had been 
scurvy in the mines they were specially desired* 
The Hawaiian Islands crop had been bought and 
eaten, and the ground had been hoed over a second 
time for what had been left the first ; for prior to this 
last operation there was not a potato for sale in the 



town. The day after the cleaning-up ship had come 
in from the Islands, some small watery specimens of 
the root were exhibited in the market, and on the 
doorpost of one of the hotels was tacked a shingle 
on which was chalked ''potatoes for dinner to-day." 
And early that morning the thrifty burghers of the 
place were out with their baskets, smilingly asking 
the market man ''How do you sell potatoes?" "A 
dollar and a half," the repl}'' would come. "Give me 
a bushel." "A bushel I They are a dollar and a 
half a pound." "Oh I ah! I will take two pounds." 

California gold largely increased the importation of 
silks, velvets, laces, jewelry, and other articles of 
luxury. It stimulated the building of houses, and 
carriages, the breeding of horses, but not the rearing 
of children ; it increased the number of theatres, 
balls, parties, and concerts four fold, and advanced 
real estate values, and the prices of all commodities. 

One day a man havmg 1,500 dozen eggs for sale, 
brought in by a coasting schooner, hailed a street mer- 
chandise-broker, of whom there were hundreds in 
those days, and insisted on his buying them, which 
the broker finally did, at 37^ cents a dozen. Right 
away the buyer began to sell at $4 50 a dozen, when 
the first seller exclaimed '* What a fool I have been I " 
and securing the remainder at the last mentioned 
price, took them to Sacramento and sold them at 
$6 a dozen. 

When tobacco was down, a man desirous of build- 
ing a house on made ground tumbled in boxes of it, 
enough to form a foundation. Before the house was 
built tobacco was worth $1 a pound, more than a 
dozen such houses. Wanting a cross walk one threw 
in sacks of beans, which shortly after were worth 
thirty cents a pound. 

At the restaurants of the period. Skinner's chop 
house on Second street, Sacramento, for example, 
were heard all the old cries of the cheap eating- 
houses of Fulton, Ann, and Nassau streets, New 


York. Blustering waiters in greasy clothes switch- 
ing filthy towels about the noses of their guests, 
bawl their orders from morning till night and from 
night till almost morning, in the honorable effort to 
fill the stomachs of the great unwashed. Loud of voice 
and with faces red they cry, through the hole which 
opens into the fizzing, smoking kitchen, "Hurry up 
them cakes !"" Plate of fish-balls quick I " ''One 
rare steak ; one hasli ; plate o' fried tripe, with one 
onion, done brown ! " " Come, why don't y er hurry 
up them cakes ; don't be all day ! " Thus they con- 
tinue, through the busy hours of meal time amidst 
clatter of dishes, and now and then a crash resulting 
from a collision of the carriers, varying their stern 
calls with benign and soothing words to the afflicted 
customers: '' One moment, sir." '' I'll attend to your 
case, sir." *' Now then, sir ; we have as you perceive 
by the bill of fare everything you can wish, sir." A 
miner mumbles forth his order, and the next moment 
is almost lifted from his seat by the shout : " Cakes, 
sausage, tripe, fish-balls, liver, and tea for one, quick 1 ' 

Long Wharf, by which name the lower end of Com- 
mercial street in San Francisco was known in the early 
years, was the rendezvous for thieves and thimble- 
riggers as well as for all sorts of peddlers, criers and 
''givers away " of merchandise. There Cheap John 
flourished in all his glory, and no matter how hard the 
times, drove, what appeared on the surface, a lively 

'' That feller in thar talks as ef he had his tongue 
iled ;" remarked an attentive observer, a tall, raw-boned, 
hatchet-faced individual, one evening. 

''Talking of iles," immediately broke forth the 
facetious auctioneer who overheard the remark, "I have 
something here which I rayther think will kinder take 
you," at the same time holding up as many bottles of 
hair oil, brushes, and pieces of soap as both hands 
could contain. 

" Here's a lot of goods, gentlemen, worth in a reg- 


ular way five dollars." The crowd smiled audibly. 
*'Now, I don't want as much as that," continued 
Cheap John. " Times is too hard, and if you won't 
have 'em for something you may take 'em for nothing. 
I'll put 'em all at four-an'-a-'a'f Who'll give me four ? 
Take 'em along for three, gentlemen, you know times 
is hard and these goods must be cleaned out of here. 
There they are for two-an'-a-'a'f Who says two? 
Down they go at one, and to show you that times is 
hard and that these goods must be sold, there they 
are for fifty cents, and I'll never ask a cent more nor 
take a cent less." 

" Well, mister," drawled out the sharp-visaged ob- 
server, who by this time had worked his way up to 
the counter, ''times is hard, very hard I may say, an' 
ef you'll jest throw in that 'ar coat an' pants, an' that 
'ar vest, an' fiddle what's hangin' up thar agin the 
wall, why dang my buttons ef I don't paternize yer 
fifty cents worth." 

Sickness was an expensive pasthne in those days, 
and to indulge in some diseases was much more costly 
than in others. The fee-bill of the San Francisco 
medical society, organized June 22d, 1850, gives 
the prices for various visits and operations rang- 
ing from $16 — one 'ounce,' — the lowest, to $1,000. A 
single visit was $32 ; a visit in regular attendance 
$32; for every hour detained $32 additional; advice 
$50 to $100; night visits as consulting physicians 
$100; for various specified operations from $500 to 

Doctors flourished, and as a class were no more 
scrupulous than ministers or miners. At Yeates' 
rancho, in 1849, a man died. He had two yoke of 
cattle and a large quantity of provisions in his wagon. 
Dr Sparks took care of him, and when he died claimed 
the cattle and wagon for the doctor's bill. Dr Sparks 
was soon taken sick and Dr Clinton took care of him. 
Sparks died and Clinton took cattle, wagon, ^ pro- 
visions and all the property Sparks had, for his bill. 


A wag published in the Herald of June 6, 1851, a 
caricature model business-letter of the day, from a 
California correspondent of an eastern shipper. The 
receipt of several hundred ship-loads of goods is 
acknowledged, most of which were sold at half their 
cost, and the remainder of the invoices were closed by 
the regular fire of the 4th ult. '*Some two hundred 
of your vessels," continues the letter, "have cleared 
for China and the East Indies; the balance, say five 
hundred, remain in port from our inability to negotiate 
further drafts on you. Most of them are less liable to 
sink, as they now lie on the sand flats, than they 
would be if sent to sea, and we would advise their re- 
maining as they are some forty or fifty years. We 
would advise the immediate shipment of some five 
hundred assorted cargoes as the supply in the market 
is not more than sufficient for fifteen months. Any 
article quoted at high prices, the consumption of 
which is limited, should be shipped in large quanti 
ties, in order to compete with the host of other ship- 
pers. In shipping dutiable goods, you need never 
provide for the payment of the duties, as we are at all 
times prepared to advance the amount required at ten 
per cent, per month interest ; or, if you prefer it, have 
the goods stored in the celebrated U. S. fire-proof 
bonded warehouses, at the trifling expense of seven 
dollars per ton the first month, and three dollars each 
succeeding month. An anniversary fire is confidently 
expected on the 14tli inst., when we hope to close 
most of our consignments." 

Looking at the fleet of vessels at anchor in the 
harbor, one wondered how it was possible for three 
hundred thousand men to consume the cargoes of 
them all. But these three hundred thousand were 
equivalent to a million of mingled young and old, 
women, children, and men. Cities were to be built, 
farmes stocked, and mines developed, and all this re- 
quired immense supplies and material. Little or 
nothing was then produced ; even lumber for building, 


and vegetables and grain, were shipped from distant 

The captain of a vessel landing from a small boat, 
threw his valise upon the shore, and calling out to a 
ship's porter, "Carr}^ that valise up to the hotel, my 
boy," pitched him a half dollar. Drawing back from 
the coin, which he had permitted to fall upon the 
ground, with an air of magnificent disgust. Jack drew 
from his pocket two half dollars, and throwing them 
over toward the captain, exclaimed as he turned upon 
his heel, '* carry it up yourself" 

Some long-headed, leathery-brained Boston Yankee 
sent out shot. He had more shot than he could sell 
at home, and he had been told that there was consid- 
erable shooting among the miners; so he threw into 
a shipment a large consignment of shot. ''Who 
wants shot in California I " exclaimed the consignee. 

'* Nobody," replied a broker. 

" What'U ye give for em? " 

** Don't want 'em." 

''Didn't ask if you wanted them. I asked what 
you would give for them." 

'' Oh I ten or twenty cents a bag." 

" They are yours at twenty cents." 

The buyer then rubbed up his wits, and presently 
sold them at §4, to be run into revolver bullets. Then 
he bought a lot of tacks at ten cents a paper; for 
*'wliat do people want of tacks who have no carpets?" 
he had asked. But when they began to tack up can- 
vass houses, all those tacks went off lively at $2 a 

Of the firm of Priest, Lee and Company, at Sutter's 
Fort, was Christopher Taylor, who went from Oregon 
to San Francisco in 1848, on the brig Henry, which 
carried down produce, lumber, provisions, and passen- 
gers. In company with several Oregonians he pro- 
ceeded up the Sacramento in the little vessel of Sutter 
and Hastings, arriving at Sutter's fort in September. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 23 


There they hired a team to take them to Coloma, at 
which place they encamped. He whom Mr Taylor 
calls his partner went over to the middle branch, 
where he met friends whom he joined, and was soon 
making one or two hundred dollars a day. Being 
thus left alone, Taylor returned to the fort, arriving 
the 25th of September, and having in his pocket about 
twenty-five dollars. While considering in just what 
way he would make his fortune, his money being 
pretty well spent, he was accosted by his old friend 
Barton Lee. ''Chris, what are you going to do?" 
''Well," said Taylor, "I think I shall go into business 
here." "You are just the man I want," returned 
Lee. ''Come and dine with me." 

Now neither of these individuals had capital suffi- 
cient to pay a week's board; yet each thought the 
other possessed of abundance. Both, however, were 
enlightened before dinner was over. Lee had a little 
the advantage, as he had begun a large business by 
renting: a room in the fort for a store, thousrh he had 
nothing to put in it. For this he had promised to 
pay a rental of $100 a month; the first month's rent 
was still due. These interesting facts came out 
gradually between courses, as they might be told 
without affecting digestion. 

"What do 3^ou think of it ?" asked Lee after dinner. 
*' I think I shall go into business," said Taylor. ' ' Where 
is the stock to come from?" inquired Lee. "Do you 
know any one at San Francisco?" "No one," re- 
sponded Taylor. "But we can get goods enough; 
we will buy them." There were at this time con- 
stantly arriving from the bay small sloops, laden with 
such goods as the miners required. Assuming the 
attitude of senior partner, although Lee had the room 
rented before him, Taylor said, "While I sweep out 
the store, you go down to the embarcadero and buy 
out the first vessel that arrives; buy everything on 
board." " But where will I get money with which to 
pay for it all?" Lee wanted to know, "Leave that 


to me," replied Taylor. Lee did as lie had been di- 
rected, and returned reporting the purchase of a cargo. 
**What does it consist of?" demanded Taylor. ''Ore- 
gon bacon, flour, and boots and shoes," was the reply. 
''Exactly what we want," said Taylor. "About the 
pay — what arrangement did you make ? " " Not any." 
"Well, in the morning say to him that his money is 
ready, and he shall have it as soon as the goods are 
landed." "That is all very well," said Lee, "but I 
would like to know what kind of a scrape I am getting 
into." '*Does the captain drink?" "He soaks in it 
all the time." "All right; see that plenty of whiskey 
is always at hand ; as fast as the cargo is discharged,, 
send it to me, but do not let him take it out too rap- 
idly; tell him our team is worked hard, and that we 
are so crowded we cannot stow it away faster." 

All went on smoothly at the embarcadero. The 
master of the vessel tliouglit Lee one of the best men 
he had ever met, exceedingly honest and truthful. 
Taylor handled himself lively about the store. H3 
made trade brisk. Some of those in the crowd that 
was coming and going he knew; they and others 
wanted supplies. The goods as they arrived w^ere not 
put into tlie store, but were piled up outside, thus 
making a grand display. Such large merchants must 
surely have large means, and good credit. The result 
of it all was the merchandise was sold as fast as de- 
livered, and when the captain came for his money, tlie 
partners had enough to pay for the cargo, vessel, and 

It happened one day with Mr Palmer, in settling 
off-liand some accounts with a business acquaintance 
involving heavy transactions, that he stood near a pile 
of lumber. There was due the man from Palmer 
$25,000, for which Palmer gave a check on Palmer, 
Cook, and Company, writing it w^ith chalk on a shingle, 
which was presented and promptly paid. 

The diggers alone produced the gold ; as for the 
rest, all preyed on them and on each other. Even 


the packers and traders were often hard pushed to 
make both ends meet, as when Simonton sold liis 
mangy dog for $50, taking in pay two worthless pups 
at $25 each. 

In the summer of 1851, business was decidedly 
dull. Ever}'body complained. Many returned home. 
Miners had touched bottom ; for agricultui'al products 
there would be no demand, and the country was now 
a good one to leave. Auctioneers continued to ham- 
mer off goods at rates which, after paying freight, 
cartage, storage, and commissions, if the shipper was 
not brought in debt himself, he might deem himself 
foi-tunate. How like a golden dream the old time 
came over them — the brisk trade, and three and five 
hundred per cent profits of '49 and '501 Alas, but 
for the fires they might now be at home enjoying the 
fruits of their enterprise, instead of being obliged, for 
the third or fourth thne, to try ^it just once more. 

None felt the dull thnes which seemed to settle on 
San Francisco in earnest first toward the spring of 
1852 more than the sporting fraternity. Many 
gambling-houses did not make enough to pay the 
music, and gamblers did not refuse to play for as 
small a sum as a quarter of a dollar. Fifty-dollar 
slugs were as common on the dealer's table four 
months previous as silver dollars were now. The 
absence of rain about the 1st of March made business 
men and miners blue. People were just beginning 
to realize the full effect of the absence of rain upon 
the interests of the country, and no one had the heart 
even to gamble. Grand raffles were then started to 
stimulate the flagging spirits of gambling. Tobm and 
Duncan, auctioneers of China goods, finding them- 
selves with a large stock, and bidding being slow, en- 
gaged the Jenny Lind theatre, spread out a brilliant 
array of prizes, one thousand in number, consisting of 
diamonds, jewelry, paintings, and China fabrics, and 
on the 6th of March, 1852, distributed the whole by 
lot among the large audience in attendance. Five 


hours were occupied in the drawing, which took place 
under the superintendence of a committee of eight 
persons. The first prize, a diamond watch valued at 
two thousand dollars, was drawn by one Moses. 

Duncan's Chinese salesrooms, thrown open the 5th 
of April, 1853, made a finer display of Oriental mer- 
chandise and curiosities than any similar establishment 
in Europe or America before or since. Spacious 
rooms, tastefully fitted up, were crowded with costly 
Asiatic goods, presenting the appearance more of a 
magnificent nmseum than a shop. The wealth and 
splendor of the Indies were spread out in tempting 
array for the benefit or ruin of purchasers — shawls 
from Thibet and Cashmere, silks embroidered by pa- 
tient Hindoos, Chinese robes, ornaments in wood and 
ivory, work-boxes of Bombay, scented sandal-wood, 
grotesque carriages from Japan, porcelain ware, and 

Beside the elaborately wrought silk and crape 
sliawls, which were very popular at first, but which 
soon went out of fashion, tlie Chinese shops in San 
Francisco oftered many curious articles. Carved 
ivory, representing animals, cities, pagodas, junks; 
puzzles, fans, chess and checker-men in wood and 
ivory ; sandal-wood, roots twisted into peculiar shapes ; 
gorgeous but flimsy silks, satins, and velvets; inlaid 
lacquered ware and china, silver filigree work, pictures, 
and a thousand other things, displaying the aesthetic 
shades in the minds of those half-civilized heathen. 

Business at the beginning of 1854 was pronounced 
dull ; everybody was complaining. The miners lacked 
water, the country traders money, and so the ware- 
houses of the city must groan with goods and their 
owners with ennui. 

It would, indeed, have been very strange had not 
some become discouraged. One man landed in San 
Francisco in January, 1851, with $150,000 worth of 
goods. The first fire after his arrival destroyed half 
of them, the next swept away the remainder, and 


after a six months business career in California, he 
returned home ruined and well-nigh heart-broken. 
No wonder that some, their fortunes smitten to dust, 
predicted for the city the fate of Babylon, and fled 
from its portals as from the gates of Sodom. But 
notwithstanding the rapid succession of disasters, 
wdiich in any other country under heaven would have 
seemed fatal, again and again the city rose from its 
ashes, and its people buckled on anew their battered 

Yet the spring trade of 1854 was good. It fell 
off as usual toward summer, when there were great 
complaints against insane and avaricious eastern 
shippers for glutting the market with goods. In 
August there was a revival in business and general 
prosperity throughout the state. Notwithstanding 
tlie many destructive fires, building was active, and in 
the interior towns a better class of houses were 
erected than ever before. Marysville was specially 
lively at this time, and the coast towns from San 
Diego to Puget Sound — San Pedro, Santa Barbara, 
Santa Cruz, Monterey, Eureka, Trinidad, Crescent 
City, Port Orford, and others began to show signs of 

At one of the sales of the state's interest in the 
cit}^ of San Francisco water lots, in October 1854, 
132 lots were bid off to a certain person who subse- 
quently made two payments on account of the same 
in accordance with the terms of sale. At the proper 
time the purchaser presented himself before the auc- 
tioneers, the agents of the board of commissioners, 
prepared to make the third and final payment, to- 
gether with the usual commissions and a fair price for 
drawing up the deed. The agents for the sale of 
the state's interest refused to receive this last install- 
ment, unless the purchaser would pay them in addi- 
tion to their legal commissions $1,980 for making out 
the deed, being at the rate of fifteen dollars a lot for 
the 132 lots. Although but one deed for the entire 


purchase was necessary, the auctioneer claimed the 
right to charge the same as if 132 different deeds 
had been drawn up. This exorbitant demand the 
purchaser refused to pay and the lots were resold by 
the commissioners' agents. 

Thus matters progressed. From a savage wilder- 
ness there soon emerged a settled community ; fortunes 
were made and lost ; cities arose like magic and were 
destroyed by fire or flood in a breath ; one day the 
noisy industry of a busy population echoed through 
the hills and ravines, and the next all was deserted as 
if smitten by the plague ; speculative excess, gamb- 
ling, and debauchery ran riot, while decency stood 
by helpless to restrain. Unworthy and unprincipled 
men usurped the highest offices, and by their nefari- 
ous schemes filled their pockets and those of their 
abettors with the ill-gotten gains of pilfering and dis- 
honesty, and all this time the press was either silent 
through fear of personal injury, or basely sold itself 
to uphold iniquity. Then came a change for the 
better. Vice was compelled to retire from public 
gaze; the gambler and the harlot were no longer 
allowed to ply their trades on the most public 
thoroughfares in the broad light of open day, and 
the bench became in a measure purified. 

Yet public and private enterprises of a substantial 
and permanent character were projected and carried 
out in greater numbers and more rapidly than hith- 
erto. Formerly, such only were attempted as would 
immediately yield a rich reward, and these were ac- 
complished with the least possible expense, and in such 
a manner as to last only for the time being. Tents, 
huts, and log-cabins were the homes of the miner, a 
raft was his ferry-boat, and a scratch upon the hillside 
his water-ditch. The towns and cities were of mush- 
room growth, merchants cooked and slept in their 
split-board stores, and guarded their goods and treas- 
ures from thieves and fires. Farming life was no bet- 
ter, and exhibited few evidences of that spirit of 

360 BUSrNESS. 

content and permanence which now began to appear 
in well-tilled lands, with fences and drains in hand- 
some dwellings with cultivated gardens and commo- 
dious outhouses. Culture and improvement began to 
be seriously considered; institutions were organized 
devoted to morals, religion, temperance, and the im- 
provement of the mental and physical condition of the 
young. Plank roads were made, and substantial 
bridges built across the principal streams. 

Some eastern men made money in California, but 
more lost heavily. If from sickness, fire, flood, or 
any otlier cause, the extravagant ideas of eastern 
speculators failed to be realized, agents were accused 
of fraud, and the reputation of the whole country 
called in question. A loss is mourned in louder tones 
than tell a profit, and as, owing to the chaotic state of 
affairs, venture after venture was lost, and men who 
had been known and trusted from boyhood slipped 
from the fingers of rectitude, the world was filled with 
complaints of California, and it was thought that gold 
and its corrupting influences had so undermined the 
principles of its votaries that the atmosphere of the 
Pacific slope was tainted with moral contagion. How 
many of those men labored true to their trust amidst 
the most disheartening reverses, their friends at home 
never knew. Rushing hither, blind to all before them, 
they found a condition of affairs very different from 
what they had anticipated. The mart was crowded 
with articles unsuited to the requirements of the 
country, and lacking what it needed most. The mines 
did not yield inevitable and immediate wealth, but 
severe labor was there rewarded by fluctuating suc- 
cess, so that the most faithful to their trust were 
sometimes forced to annul contracts and disappoint 



Al mondo mal non e senza rimedio. 

— Sannazaro. 

In newly-settled regions rural simplicity is rare. 
Ignorance, stupidity, bigotry there may be in abund- 
ance, but that innocence which arises from isolation, 
from the absence of the contaminating influences of 
fashion, frivolity, falsity, from the arts and humbug 
of high life, and from the demoralizing tendencies of 
social intermixtures, leading to deceit and dissipation, 
is seldom found in rural districts recently occupied. 
For the harassing cares, the asperities, the trials cf 
temper attending family migrations, the clearing of a 
wilderness, and the planting of a home are not such 
as foster single-mindedness, domestic religion, and the 
tenderer graces. 

As time went by, the moral and social condition of 
the mining towns greatly improved. There was an 
industrious, orderly, and intelligent population, with 
wives and sisters; there were churches, and schools, 
and libraries, and newspapsrs; there were well-filled 
shops, and money enough to patronize them, but yet 
they were far from being like the clean quiet villages 
of New York or New England. The stores were 
open on Sunday, and the saloons were better filled 
than the churches. The door of the harlot opened 
upon the most public thoroughfare, and from within 
might be heard by the passer-by the ribald oath and 
obscene jest, and the chinking of the gambler s checks. 



Houses, streets, and society, and life in general, ap- 
peared crude and raw, as indeed they were. 

Immigration, though decreasing in numbers, gained 
in quality. The character of its composition changed. 
Men now came to stay, bringing with them their 
families, their lares and penates, and sufficient money 
to establish tliemselves in some industry tending to 
the increase of commerce, or to the development of 
the country. The fitful and irrational passion which 
prompted earlier immigration was less indulged in by 
later comers, who sought success where success is 
usually found, in permanent plodding rather than in 
sudden ac(juirement. There were new avenues of 
industry opened, and plains and valleys were orna- 
mented with homes, made attractive by cultivation 
without and endearments withui. 

Immigration was wanted; but not that kind of 
immigration which characterized the first settlement 
of this country, and of many new countries ; not the 
lowest and vilest from the purlieus of cities, nor 
gamblers, nor ephemeral speculators; but earnest, 
honest, hard-working and law-abiding men and women, 
who should come across the plains with their ox-teams, 
their household goods, and their little ones; or cross- 
ing the water, should come to plant themselves in a 
new soil, and there remain and build up for them- 
selves and their posterity a new home. The days of 
the adventurers were past; in coming they fulfilled 
their destiny, acted their part in the great social up- 
heavals which, in their coalescing, outlined the config- 
urations of future institutions, gave boundaries to 
thought, and color and climax to ideas; but now their 
work was done, and the slower process of disintegra- 
tion and alligation must be accomplished by other 

Three years had scarcely passed before it was dis- 
covered that California possessed charms as powerful 
to retain as to attract. It was a proud thing for the 
young villager to visit his old home with well-lined 


pockets, the admiration of the girls, the envy of his 
former companions, and the special object of interest 
of the old folks. It was grand and heroic to be of 
California. Tamely to settle in the slow old home 
after participating in the glories of gold-digging, 
gambling, and free fighting was out of the question. 
Nor were home and friends and occupation to the more 
enlightened from the larger cities, ever again the same 
after a residence in San Francisco. Speculation and 
commercial pursuits after the old fashion offered no 
attractions after having made three or four fortunes 
with lightning rapidity one after another, though 
they were swept away by fire as fast as made. So 
gradually the contemplated brief sojourn lengthened 
into a fixed residence, the family was sent for, and 
then apparently for the first time the husband and 
father opened his eyes to the iniquity around him 
and went to work in company with wife and daughter 
to bring about a better state of things. And this 
moral morass was reclaimed almost as speedily as it 
was formed. Healthy plants could not grow in a 
swamp of festering corruption The question was 
simply should the country be reclaimed to virtue or 
should vice prevail. And now the easy citizen and 
loose moralist becomes a reformer. If the country is 
worth making his home in — and do his best he can- 
not live away from it — then it is worth purifying and 
directing in its young growth. So public gambling 
is suppressed, prostitution driven from the more promi- 
nent thoroughfares, libraries are founded, churches 
built, and schools established ; charitable institutions 
spring up, and the ocean air, as it passes through the 
streets of the city and over the bay, toward the labor- 
ers in the valleys and in the mines, carries with it less 
of pollution and blasphemy than formerly; a long 
breath of it may now be taken without suffocation. 

Enough sudden fortunes were made, enough rich 
deposits unlocked, to keep alive the flame of expecta- 
tion. Who knows, thought the patient unsuccessful 


d elver but that my turn may come next, and my life 
be illuminated by the roseate tints of gold, warm 
mellow metal, transcendent gold. Take for example 
the tunneling operations which in 1854-5 dissected 
every hill. Without capital, without means even to 
buy bread, four or six or ten men form themselves 
into a company and coolly begin a work requiring 
years of labor and thousands of dollars to complete. 
Buoyed by faith hi theories of world-building you 
hear them talking of ages past as other men talk of 
yesterday, reasoning of the time when channels of 
rivers wound round the lofty hills, when through a 
silent world tenantless streams rolled into a saltless 

Thus strong in faith, hope feeds and clothes the phil- 
osophic miner for months and years. He lives and la- 
bors, he scarcely knows how. Time passes ; the end 
approaches; the last blow is struck; the point is reached 
which marks success or failure. Round him who 
washes the first prospect-pan on reaching the end of the 
shaft or tunnel, agroup gathers breathless with anxiety. 
One with furrowed brow, and silver-sprinkled hair, and 
features fixed and immobile from care and toil, thinks 
of her who with him has started down the limitless 
decline, whose days will soon be past brightening 
with gold, and whose fate for life with that of others 
dear to him, the next five minutes may decide. An- 
other, a young sire, forgotten of his children, scours 
into a fiery glow the hairy skin above the heart, calls 
back his flitting fancy from the heaven of the old 
home, and peers into that pan of dirt as into an oracle. 
Yet another, little more than boy in years, though old 
enough in experience, delicately featured and bearing 
signs of good breeding, the small hands hardened, and 
fingers cramped by crowbar and pickhandle, yet not 
so stiff but they can renew by every steamer the story 
of unchanged love to her whose image fills his heart, 
ah ! What means the product of that pan of dirt to 


Less and less become the contents, until at last the 
result is known — two ounces they think it is, but call 
it an ounce, and their fortunes are made. Yet for 
every one who wins, let it be remembered, ten fail. 
And what means failure such as this ? It means a 
slice of life thrown to the dogs, a measure of capabili- 
ties emptied upon a dunghill, capabilities of enjoying, 
of improving ; it means grayer hairs, deeper furrowed 
lineaments, and stiffer limbs, with no results in acqui- 
sition worth living for. And besides this loss of 
time, of hope, of energy, it means bankruptcy, a long 
unpaid and unpayable score at the butcher's and a 
dozen other like places ; it means in the man and all 
his affairs demoralization, if not indeed dissipation and 

The absenceof cant and fanaticism, and the liberalized 
views of the people on all subjects saved California 
from most of those festering disputations and argu- 
ments to which the question of slavery gave birth in 
other states of the confederacy. Here all the world 
met as on neutral ground, ignoring bootless argument 
on topics foreign to their immediate purpose. Ques- 
tions of social policy were based for the most part on 
utilitarian principles ; doctrines and dogmas were left 
to those who had more leisure to discuss them. While 
many were in favor of the admission of California as a 
slave state, the majority were decidedly opposed to it; 
3^et northerners were not disposed to quarrel with 
slaveholders for brinj^ino: with them their servants, 
and permitting them to work for their masters as long 
as they pleased. In the mining districts and in the 
towns tnere were many slaves, who of course could 
leave their masters at any moment, and did in the end 
leave them, yet for the time and midst the hubbub of 
contending events they preferred bondage to a sever- 
ance of old ties. 

In this pandemonium plunge, ten centuries of cul- 
ture and superstition were flung to the winds. There 
were new thoughts, new hearts, new dress, new 


speech, and new names. Conventionalisms, creeds, 
and politics were left at home hi coming hither; here 
were new conditions for a fresh mifolding. New con- 
ventionalities arose, crude and strange, born of the 
necessities of the new society; for intellect, volition, 
and passion must of necessity develop form and 

Some trivial circumstance — anything which hap- 
pened to strike the fancy of the dominant spirits 
among his new associates — as likely as not fastened 
upon each new comer an appellation which adhered 
to him through life. Thus the dress of one suggested 
the name of Frippery Jim, the complexion of another 
that of Black Bill or Red Rover. 

Almost every mining camp had its Yank and Sandy, 
its Little Breeches, Pike, Boston, Mississippi, Mis- 
souri, Bricktop, and so on, names significant of pecu- 
liarity or place. There was no one to vouch for the 
truth of the stranger's statements concerning himself 
It was scarcely to be supposed that he would give his 
past character exactly according to the record; and who 
knew but that he might also have changed his name? 
"Who are you?" in a tone by no means likely to place 
a timid man at his ease, was the first question. 
"Sturgis, Deacon Sturgis, they used to call me in 
Connecticut, where I came from." ''You a deacon," 
with an ominous step forward, ''Hell is full of such 
deacons I" Another quick survey for a salient point, 
and a sanctimonious air seems predominant, which 
together with the report given of the new arrival de- 
termines the matter. "This is Pious Pete," and if 
the christened one was wise, he would gracefully ac- 
cept his new name, and invite all hands to partake of 
the new communion. 

San Francisco, as well as Athens, had its Diogenes. 
Philosopher Pickett was his name. Between Pickett 
and his Athenian prototype there existed certain dif- 
ferences incident in some measure to differences in 
age and country. For example, instead of rolling in 


hot sand, and clasping snow-clad statues, the Califor- 
nian philosopher sunned himself on the piazza of his 
hotel, and drank iced juleps. His tub stood in the 
lobby of the legislature, where he practised the pro- 
fession of comma ading men. 

However at heart a cynic, the surface was charm- 
ingly bland. So it always was with Californian 
philosophers. Of whatsoever school, the very first 
requisite was a free and easy demeanor. This, with 
always a readiness to drink at some one else's expense, 
and a happy faculty of impelling the hands of listeners 
into their pockets for the benefit of a bar-room com- 
pany, were qualities in obtaining an ascendency over 
the mind more fruitful than flagellations, chastity, 
poverty, or any species of antics or asceticism. 

Office-seekers were not slow to perceive that Phil- 
osopher Pickett was endowed with qualities of great 
value to every one except himself It is enough for 
a philosopher to be a philosopher. The moment he 
seeks wealth or political preferment the pedestal 
crumbles, and he becomes like other men, earthy. 

Once a candidate for a legislative clerkship, noticing 
the extended acquaintance and easy influence of the 
philosopher, determined to approach him. The little 
man was courteous, and ver}^ free with his half dollars 
about bars and billiard-tables. In due time tlie appli- 
cant for office broached the subject nearest his heart, 
and begged the philosopher's influence. Pickett 
turned to him in apparent surprise, as if the man's 
every movement for the past three days had not dis- 
covered his ambition, and straightening his slim figure 
to its full height, fixed upon him a pair of glittering 
gray eyes, and spake : 

'' Sir," said he, '' I am the last man outside of Plato's 
republic from whom you should solicit aid. Should I 
advocate your claim, the members would suspect you 
honest; and surely 3^ou must know that an honest 
man stands no more chance before a California legis- 
lature than a cat in hades without claws." The Ian- 


guage of Californian philosophers, it will be observed, 
is more forcible than elegant. **If you want office," 
continued Pickett, *' cheat at poker, brawl o' nights, 
murder a man or two, show your breadth at bribery, 
— anything rather than display such weak imperfec- 
tions as honor, honesty, and good character. Our 
legislators will none of these." 

Many a walking romance, many an epic in flaunt- 
ing robes or rags has wandered these hills. Far be- 
yond the limits of human habitations, on the top of a 
mound surrounded by what was called the Doomed 
valley, there once lived a personage known as the Old 
Man of the Mountain. No one knew his name, or 
who he was, or whence he came. He was absent all 
day, no one knew where, returning regularly at night, 
and he was never seen to cook or eat anything. The 
scattered cooking utensils appeared never to have been 
used by him. Finally he vanished as mysteriously as 
he had come. How many hermits have walked the 
streets of this strange city, and how many hermitages 
have there been in unfurnished rooms and boarding- 
house garrets I 

In common with men true to themselves, the intel- 
ligent, the honest, the faithful of every nation, 
California became the rendezvous of prize-fighters, 
thieves, gamblers, and murderers. Convicts came 
over from Australia, bold desperadoes of the order of 
Saint Giles, and outlaws from various parts. It was 
the paradise of the disgraced, the bankrupt, the de- 
faulter, the felon. But happily these were a short- 
lived race, and there was enough of a different element 
at first to leaven the mass, and finally, in the shape of 
vigilance committees, to purify it. Then there were 
numberless intermediate and less influential grades, 
such as would-be leaders of cliques, who conceived it 
their mission to enlighten mankind and exalt them- 
selves; exquisites, gentlemen by profession, and by 
profession only, whose feathers were speedily plucked 
by humbug-haters, who grew apace in the congenial 


atmosphere ; the excessively prim and puritanical, who 
when they fell never stopped until they reached bot- 
tom; godless young men, of rich and honorable parent- 
age, who preferred the woollen shirt and unkempt 
beard of the miner with immediate independence to 
the more sedate and less venturesome life of plodding 
respectability, with the crowning honor of church 
deaconship or bank director to gild its latter days. 

Notwithstanding the diversity of character here 
displayed, diverse in thought, customs, beliefs and 
tongues, there was almost immediately apparent — in 
the Caucasian portion of the society at least — a re- 
markable homogeneity and oneness in adaptation to 
the new order of things. Strangers to each other's 
faces, to each other's hearts, to each other's idiosyn- 
crasies, come from strange lands into a land strange 
to all, and there at once fit themselves to strange and 
improvised ways never before heard of by any. The 
facility with which the several elements coalesced may 
be attributed to two causes. First, although the up- 
rising was general and proceeded from nations distant 
and diverse, the exodus was one of certain homogene- 
ous elements, no less individual and distinct than other 
migrations of peoples. Human nature the world over 
is framed on one model, and the component parts of 
an individual society, though widely scattered origin- 
ally, may be collected and fused into recognised metal 
which shall pass current in all societies. Certain 
qualities and classes throughout all the contributing 
nations, were alike touched by the knowledge of the 
gold discovery, and rose up in answer to one common 
impulse. Secondly, being thus brought together obe- 
dient to common promptings for the accomplishment, 
each for himself, of a common object, there was a sympa- 
thy of interests and a conununity of thought and action 
never displayed by characteristics and nationalities so 
varied and extended since the crusades. The fact is, so- 
ciety here was at once so unique and abnormal, that it 
was impossible for anyone thrown into it not to con- 

Cal. Int. Poc. 24 


form in some measure to its demands; and this necessity, 
which hes at the foundation of all progressional law, 
threw over the moral and physical aspect of the peo- 
ple the same general tint. All had come hither to 
achieve gold ; sudden acquisition of enormous wealth 
was the one idea, and all those social fictions which 
common sense vainly seeks a reason for were thrown 
to the winds. High and low, educated and ignorant, 
polished and rude, are all confounded in an all-absorb- 
ing fraternity of labor. Under the woolen shirt and 
grizzled beard the former dandy may scarcely be dis- 
tinguished from the blacksmith, or the master from 
his man. 

How sadly has the world degenerated 1 See that 
ragged blear-eyed tailor. Twenty years ago he was 
a white-shirted, shaved and mustachioed gambler, 
with his monte bank, his mistress, and his mule, all 
the gayest of the gay. The songbirds were not 
lighter-hearted than he, as he went home in the morning 
and turned into bed for a sleep after a successful night 
of it. Then how professions have changed and mixed 
themselves up since then. There are mechanics 
turned preachers; preachers turned politicians; edi- 
tors turned lawyers and lawyers editors ; a whilom 
bartender now practises medicine, and yonder scrawny- 
featured, shaty^y-headed individual in Sam Slick cos- 
tume takes photographs — very bad ones — in the 
mornings, and sits upon the judicial bench dealing 
out justice, too often as blurred as his pictures, in the 
afternoon. Dram-sellers have become millionaires, 
and millionaires and paupers alike have passed down 
the dance of death to the time-racket of delirium tre- 
mens. Ancient washerwomen are drawn through 
the streets in satin-lined carriages by caparisoned 
horses, and attended by liveried servants, while those 
who have known better days sit pale and sad of heart 
sewing from early till late for bread. 

Yet, with all their Acherons and rivers of sorrow 
rolling over them, conscious always of sowing here 


the eternal seeds of misery, despair and death ever 
gnawing at their heart-strings, the unsuccessful ones 
carry a bold, brave front, treating lightly misfortune. 
Melpomene's tragic face is wreathed in laughing ivy. 
They are not the men to groan over sickness and mis- 
fortune. They toil on, bankrupt in everything but 
hope, doubt contending with expectation as the pick, 
blow after blow, sinks among the boulders, with no 
more thought of giving up than the gambler who 
loses a bet. Their life has been a happy-go-lucky 
one; every blow they struck was a wager. No won- 
der they used to bet at the gaming tables, it being so 
much easier to gamble thus than to bet a hard day's 
work against the ten dollars that they would get or 
not get. Thus we see how money which comes freely 
from river bank or faro bank would go freely ; we see 
how it was that prodigality would follow so closely 
upon the heels of avarice ; we see how infidelity 
springs from hnpulse, until only one prayer is left to 
the miner. "Give us, O God, with the appetite, the 
gold to satisfy it. 

In a general analysis of character prevailing in 
Californian society in its nascency, we must not lose 
sight of its composite and heterogenous qualities. 
Each individual member of society was a particle, 
independent of and in a manner antagonistic to every 
other particle. Notwithstanding the general homo- 
geneity of material, there were antagonisms of inter- 
est, of disposition, of morals. Final concretion had 
not yet set in. There was then an absence of those 
clique-formations, political coalescings, and little society 
crystalizations which have since become so inarked a 
feature in the community; and when organizations 
came, one of the first was a bandhig of villians for 
purposes of depredation. Every honest man's mind 
was intent upon its own affairs, and dwelt little on 
those affecting others or the public weal, except where 
safety or greater gain made closer communion neces- 
sary. All were strangers to each other; of their past 


lives there was no record nor current report ; men of 
tastes and habits the most opposite, such as the phil- 
osopher and the charlatan, the missionary and mur- 
derer, the merchant and the highwayman, were forced 
together in one incongruous mass. Nevertheless, 
there were traits common to all of them, prominent 
among which were extraordinary energy, and acute- 
ness. It was a land of romance, the natural atmos- 
phere of youth and inexperience, a land devoid of 
the dull sameness that overshadowed the lands all had 
left behind. 

It was curious to see how proud were the success- 
ful Californians of the country. The man who had 
spent but three months here was entitled to the honor 
of calling himself a Californian — on returning home. 
Whatever his opinion of California while there, and 
howsoever much he had longed for home, once back 
among his friends and words could not express his 
admiration for the land and the people. It was the 
only place fit to live in, the only place where people 
knew how to do business, the only place where men 
filled the ideal of manhood, and as a matter of course 
he was going back. In everything Californian he 
took a keen interest. First of all he was proud of 
himself for having gone there, proud of the old clothes 
and shaggy beard and gold dust which he had brought 
back, proud that his eyes had been opened so as to 
take in a view of the world. He regarded with pity 
liis old comrades who still plodded along at the rate 
of a dollar or two a day. 

Never since the great Egyptian exodus have the 
Hebrew race found a soil and society better suited to 
their character and taste, better adapted to their pros- 
perity and propagation than California. All nations 
having come hither, shades of color, of belief, pecu- 
liarities of physique, of temper and habit were less 
distinctly marked. Gold was here, and in common 
with the gentiles the Jew loved gold. For the rest, 


all he asked was to be let alone, and here that bless- 
ing was granted him more fully than in any country 
he had ever seen. Gold and golden opportunities, 
money-making and freedom of thought, speech, and 
action, these were here, and these were the Jews' 
earthly paradise. 

So Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. He did not 
love work, so he carefully kept out of the mines; but 
in every mining town was found his clothing store, 
his fruit and trinket shop, his cheap John establish- 
ment. And in the cities he built him a synagogue, 
and warehouses upon the streets devoted to merchan- 
dise, and dwellings in the choicest suburbs. Hotels 
and watering-places were filled with his presence; 
secret societies felt his influence; but otherwise, save 
in his trafficking, he held aloof from gentile associa- 

Liberalized by environment the Jews cared little 
for the tenets of their faith ; many of them forsook 
God; few closed their shops on a Saturday; some 
sacrificed unto new gods; few took to themselves the 
daughters of gentiles to wife. Nevertheless they yet 
retained their ancient rites, which proved as bands 
holding them in one brotherhood. 

True they shared with the Asiatic and the Ameri- 
canized Spaniard the antipathy of the dominant race, 
with this difference : the antipathy manifested toward 
the Jew was perpetual and unattended by violent 
demonstrations, while repugnance to the Chilean and 
Chinaman broke out into occasional bloody encounters. 
In this inspiring of dislike they excelled all other 
people ; though they did not seem to take it greatly 
to heart, and disliked as evenly and serenely in return. 
Money was the humanizing bond however ; Christian 
and Jew loved money. 

Here, as elsewhere, they mingled freely with the 
people, more freely, perhaps, than anywhere else since 
the days of Abraham, though they mixed with them 
as httle as ever. Though crafty and cunning, and 


oftentimes dishonest in their dealings, they were not 
more so than other men, and they usually managed 
to escape detection and punishment. Seldom a Jew 
was seen in jail, or in a mob, or intoxicated, though 
upon the slightest pretext many of them would fail in 
business, and compromise with their creditors. 

Like the Chinese, they lived and accumulated 
wealth where more lax or lavish gentiles starved. 
This was to their honor, and to the shame of the 
spendthrifts. Often in early times in mining districts, 
forgetting their fathers and their fathers' faith, they 
drank, and gambled, and raced horses, and swore, and 
frequented houses of prostitution. Then they were 
fine fellows, and the noble American miner voted the 
Jew as good as the white man. Then the finger of 
scorn was removed, and ostracism no longer talked of 
in the charmed circles of commerce. 

The Pike county man — which term was finally ap- 
plied indiscriminately to emigrants from the western 
states — could not mingle with the mixed population 
of California without becoming in some degree toned 
down ; the angles of the New Englander were in like 
manner rounded ; even the Jew, eschewing old clothes, 
was often less mercenary than his neighbor, and at- 
tained a fair degree of manhood. Indeed, there are 
many Jews in California to-day who are far above the 
average American or European in liberality and high- 
minded public spirit. But notwithstanding the tincture 
given to society by the Englishman, the Frenchman, 
the German, Irish, Scotch, Swiss, Spaniard, Italian, 
and even the Chinaman, the Anglo-American has 
ever been the dominant mind. An intermixture of 
European, Asiatic, and African elements alone never 
would have made a Californian. It may have been a 
staid English colony like Australia, or the field of 
unprogressive fiery revolutions, like Spanish America, 
but it never would have experienced that season of 
speculative energy which has driven it so swiftly on- 
ward. The European is sedate, conservative, method- 


ical, plodding, and contented ; the Anglo-American is 
versatile, venturesome, cunning, dissatisfied, and cap- 

California, naturally, with her sudden and wonder- 
ful appearing, demanded immediate recognition from 
the United States government as a full-fledged 
state. Was it not right and proper that she should 
be so recognized, and that the mantle of protection 
and the benefit of law should be extended over her? 
And yet, month after month of the year of 1849, 
she waited, now buoyant with hope, now sunk 
in despair, wondering if ever the time would come 
when party bickerings on the eastern side of the 
Rocky Mountahis would give place to the inter- 
ests of the people. A most anomalous position was 
that in which the inhabitants of California found 
themselves. They were part of a great nation, and 
yet were without government ; a country rich in min- 
eral and agricultural wealth was theirs, but they had 
only a limited control of it. Regulations for the ex- 
traction of its treasures were wanting. Titles to ag- 
ricultural lands, which must be improved at the set- 
tlers' risk or not at all, were also wanting, and the 
national congress had failed to provide them. 

By transient visitors, and writers on California, 
much more was said than was ever understood of 
the peculiarities of Californian society. As a rule phil- 
osophers and wise men coming hither can learn fully 
as much as they can teach. Though they can tell us 
many things we do not know, we can tell them many 
things we know, as well as many things we do not 
know, things they never met or are likely to meet 
elsewhere. The appearance which California pre- 
sented to them, with frequent exaggerations and 
epithets denouncing all, was early heralded by hare- 
brained writers in the various languages, and Califor- 
nia made to appear in the most diabolical light, giving 
this as the normal state of American society. 

There were always present alarmists and croakers 


enough, who saw nothing but disastrous terminations 
of a social organization begun on such a low and sor- 
did basis; who were always pointing to haunts of li- 
centiousness, to drinking and gambling saloons, to 
ballot-box stuffing, public debt, political wickedness, 
and vigilance committees, to police reports and all the 
dismal paraphernalia of vice, as if these were Califor- 
nia and the basis of Californian society. 

Thus it was that for a quarter of a century in 
foreign parts and on our eastern seaboard, California 
was but imperfectly understood. After all the toning 
down and polishing up which society was destined 
here to undergo, in the minds of the distant multitude 
we were still the same lawless, godless crew that 
enacted the Inferno of 1849. And we asked how 
long we were to suffer the stigma and lie under the 
cloud ; how long our elastic energies must turn and 
overturn before our foreign friends could see us as we 
were ? We asked the question in the fifties and received 
our answer in the eighties. In this continued miscon- 
ception of our character we may, however, more fully 
recognize how deep was the impression made by the 
discovery of gold. Roused to its remotest comers by 
the mill-race diggers' shout, the world in one glance 
fixed in its stolid brain the shocking nightmare that 
followed, and there the impression remained. And in 
truth enough even now remains of the old sulphuric 
smells and pitchy infirmities to modify somewhat our 
pride ; but in that great day when our friends across 
the Atlantic and across the Pacific shall have made 
Avhite all their robes, even as those of the daughters 
of ^ger and Rana, may not the children of pioneers, 
and the survivors of the early pandemonium hope to 
have achieved in their eyes a change of raiment? 

We have much to say of life in California ; not so 
much of death ; and yet all Californians die. In early 
times rum, exposure, and disease not being sufficient, 
they all used to carry revolvers to kill each other 
with. Ask them why they carried the man-killing 


implements, and they would say to defend their lives. 
Yet in reality the arms which the miners displayed on 
all occasions for protection, impliedly from their com- 
panions, only invited attack and added to their danger. 
Though the}^ thought, that like the belt of Thor, the 
Scandinavian war-god, these implements doubled 
their strength whenever they put tliem on, in reality 
they were weakened by them to that same degree. 
They could die pretty well, die coolly, die with their 
boots on, as they called violent death, but theirs was 
not the coolness of wisdom and philosophy. Theirs 
was not the death of Socrates, for example. ^'Crito," 
he said, as the circle of the subtle poison narrowed 
slowly round his heart, "Crito, I owe a cock to As- 
clepius; will you remember to pay the debt?" ''The 
debt shall be paid," said Crito; "is there anything 
else ? " And so he died, these being his last words. 

There was a class of young men who came to Cali- 
fornia in those days, by no means a small one, that 
commanded our special sympathy. They were mostly 
from schools and colleges, of fine abilities and high 
promise, well read, and many of them leaving pleasant 
homes and affectionate friends. Possessing a high- 
strung, delicate organization, their young ambition big 
with enthusiasm, they came hither with minds half 
formed, and with vague ideas as to their future. They 
only knew that here of all places in the world was 
their opportunity; that in this arena there was for 
every man a career, and distinction to him who had 
the nerve to win it. They felt in themselves the com- 
pressed energy of youth, the smothered fire of yearn- 
ing aspiration. Lured by golden hopes, they joined 
the El Dorado argonauts and came to California. On 
reaching San Francisco, they found thousands of 
others, who, like themselves, had landed without 
money and without friends, and were looking for 
something to do. The professions were over-crowded, 
and all the avenues of trade throno^ed. 


One of these waifs would start out in the morning 
and visit all the law offices ; then he would hang 
around the courts and public offices ; or he would go 
from shop to shop begging a situation. Only give 
him something to do, something on which to feed tlie 
fire of his ambition, and no matter how hard the 
work or how small the pay he would gladly under- 
take it. Give him a trial; he was apt and honest, 
and he must soon have work or starve. Day after 
day, from morning till night, and every day for weeks 
and montlis, witli heart in his throat, and big shame- 
faced tears now and then slipping out from under his 
eye-lashes, his very soul slaking within him, he would 
make his mournful rounds. All was life and bustle, 
and merry money-making; fortune's favorites jostled 
him as they hurried past ; only he with stifled long- 
ings was doomed to walk the streets like a beggar 
and an outcast. Yet not alone, for there were hun- 
dreds of others like him, every steamer emptying out a 
fresh supply, and the merchants could not furnish places 
for twenty applicants a day. Often a hundred of 
these sad earnest faces might have been seen stand- 
ing at one time, at seven o'clock in the morning, be- 
fore a store waiting for the door to open in order to 
answer an advertisement for a bookkeeper. At 
length heart-sick and disgusted they would scatter 
off, some finally to do the work of porter or day- 
laborer, or to drive a cart or milk- wagon, or to work 
on a farm ; others, and by far the larger number, go- 
ing to the mines. There the wanderer, standing in 
the cold running snow-stream of the Sierra, working 
in the river-beds or on the canon-side until his limbs 
are numb and sharp rheumatic pains shoot through 
his shoulders, at night tossing in sleepless unrest on 
his hard bed, or gazing in heart ful self-pity on the 
stars thinking of home, witli crushed enthusiasm frets 
his days and nights away, at morning wishing it were 
night and at night wishing the morning were come, 
brooding over his lost estate and the unrewarded 


drudgery which has befallen him, over visions of 
departed promise that rose so flush in his youth- 
ful manhood, now all fled, leaving him but the one 
hope of final rest. So time slowly drags along, 
while fortune flits before. Talk to the unfortu- 
nate of bearing up, of the folly of despair, of the 
greater difficulties conquered by the heroic struggles 
of others, and he will point you to years of unrequited 
toil, to the bright yellow ignis fatutls that ever eludes 
his grasp, to the many times when undismayed he rose 
after a fall, and applied himself with new energy to 
new tasks, until bruised in heart and bleeding he can 
rise no more. He asks not your sympathy ; for his 
failure he makes no defence ; he will never return to 
his friends humiliated; leave him alone to die! 

It is sad to see dead hope entombed in a sound 
body, to see the vigorous mind cramped as in a cruel 
prison-house, and the guide of young manhood brought 
low. To him who was thrown upon himself in youth, 
and accustomed to the rough cares of life, it makes 
little diff'erence where or how his lot is cast. If he 
cannot be cook he can be scullion, line his stomach 
with satisfying kitchen grease and be happy. But 
with those who have been carefully guarded in their 
youth it is not so. Crush the enthusiasm in an am- 
bitious sensitive heart, put out the fire that drives 
the machinery, and you may bury what is left. Work 
is not the well-bred young man's misfortune; with an 
object he will work his fingers to the bone, he will 
work his brain until the veins on his hot forehead 
swell almost to bursting; he will leave behind him 
dead half a score of your mechanical drudges at 
work. Poverty is not his misfortune; to be well 
housed, well fed, and well clothed are trifles to him 
who has a purpose in hand. His misfortune is to 
have his intuitions stifled, his talents choked, his 
mind withered for want of development ; this it is that 
makes him sour and misanthropic, all worth living 
for, growth, development, culture, an intellectual life, 


a nobler manhood, or the hope of attaining these, 
forever lost. Perhaps it would be well for such a 
one to ask himself if it were not possible to find hap- 
piness in something short of the full realization of 
his original plans. 

Success often springs from failure ; at all events, it 
lies in the discipline wrought by noble efforts rather 
than in the end of wealth and luxury. Many a heart- 
sick wretch in San Francisco has wandered over these 
sand-hills, out around by the Presidio hills to the 
Golden Gate bluffs and the ocean, and there gazing 
forth on the broad waters, or watching the tumbling 
waves come in and break in silvery surf at his feet, 
thought of the dead past, of blasted hopes, and a 
black future ; thought in self-pi tjdiig woe of home and 
the loved ones there; thought of the great gulf of 
separation here, and the dismal blank of the hereafter. 
'' Why, O God I why is it?" he would ask. " Dost thou 
delight in breeding men to misery ?" 


Mensura juris via erat. 


The miners of the flush times, their characteristics 
and quality, their idiosyncrasies and temper, are as 
far beyond description as the wind and weather of 
California, where the twenty sides of twenty thousand 
hills, and the twenty turns of twenty thousand ravines 
have each an individual climate. Twenty life-times 
might be spent and twenty volumes written before the 
story of one mining-camp in all its ramifications could 
be told. The story of one mining -camp was the story 
of mankind; and to follow it after death was the 
story of the gods. 

Each man of them should be enriched with heaped- 
up grains of gold brought down by the streams of the 
Sierra, as Croesus was enriched by the golden sands of 

Soon many of the camps could boast their church 
and schoolhouse, and temperance hotel, and express 
office and bank; the scattering huts and cabins, and 
split-board one and two-story houses, and squares 
of shabby shanties, with a block or two edged on one 
side with red brick or rough stone stores, all cluster- 
ing beside swift-running streams, and the now stumpy 
hillsides, and taking on the dignity of town. 

As out of rough stones a smooth even wall is made, 
so from these sometime uncouth characters, these 
hairy and woollen-shirted men, were formed staid 


communities, with happy homes and virtuous environ- 

Their reading was mostly of the English Reynolds 
type, and the French Faublas' Liaisons dangereuscs 
order, "where," as Lamartine says, ''vice parodied 
virtue, and riotous liberty, love." Their books were 
not always as full of charming villainy even as Rous- 
seau's Confessions. 

Alexander the Great, manslayer, was a small man ; 
Alexander Small, miner, was a great man. Anyone 
with men enough could conquer any nation or kill any 
number ; it requires no quality of greatness to do this, 
and surely no one but a fool would drink himself to 
death ; but I do not know that any great man pre- 
tends to deny that he is a fool. On the other hand, 
he who accomplishes much with little ; he who can 
deny himself, rule himself, is greater than he who can 
only rule others. Alexander the Great had ambition 
of which no medicine on earth could physic him; but 
force was greater than ambition, greater than all glory 
and all gods. Alexander the Great, dram-drinker, 
man-killer, and gambler in ordinary to his Satanic 
majesty, the world has known these two or three 
thousand years; Alexander Small, gold-digger to the 
gods, and the greater of the two, the world has never 
known at all. 

Many great men have been underrated during their 
lives, many small men have been overrated; many 
small in some things and great in others have been 
rated small or great in everything. Ralston, as the 
California bank's president, sitting behind other men's 
millions, was great, as Croesus was great; Ralston, a 
week later, dead, self-drowned, out of all his troubles, 
was a small man indeed. 

Evil results sometimes flow from good qualities ; 
some are generous because they are weak, and some 
are weak because they are generous. The sweep- 
ing winds of passion palsy the heart, jaundice the eye, 
and dry of its freshness all the gentler qualities of 


their nature. Sonietimes it became necessary for 
every member of the community to watch every other 
member, lest by some evil act the gods would be of- 
fended and send down vengeance on all. 

Nevertheless, out about this wilderness, among 
comrades, partners as they frequently called each 
other, in times of sickness and death there were deeds 
performed such as hew mountains into statues in honor 
of the doers, while sea and solemn pines unite to sing 
their praises. And grotesque as might be the miner's 
burial as all knelt round the grave, old-time habit and 
the liberal potations drank in honor of the departed, 
aiding their genuflexions, there was as much heart as 
in brass bands or priestly palaverings. 

Thousands there were who came and saw, but did 
not conquer. Coming for wool they went home shorn. 
Let the clouds write in dismal shadows on the red 
earth now abandoned of this swarthy society — fuimus, 
we have been ! Complaint was of no avail ; roast 
beef, plum pudding, and champagne were not with 
them in season. Verily, it seemed if ever in this 
bustling, breathing world times were out of joint, it 
was these Californian times of 1849. Wickedness 
prospered ; virtue and merit appeared to be the ene- 
mies rather than the friends of fortune. 

Many a sparkling mountain stream has proved to 
many a lusty digger an Acheron, a river of sorrow. 
His destiny had seemed to him as surely predeter- 
mined as was that of Achilles, foretold by his goddess 
mother. Stay at home and a long life of inglorious 
ease crowned by wealth and progeny awaited him ; go, 
and a glorious death should swiftly follow a career of 

And now, round his bronzed visage, coarsely streaked 
with corroding care, hung grizzled locks wildly matted 
as by the heavy pressure of inexorable environment 
upon the brain. Under the Sierra's feet is gold 
enough for others but none for me. Bushels of it from 
all parts pile themselves up at the metropolis, and 


thence is scattered to every quarter. Sent to the east, 
sent to the west, sent to Europe, to Asia, there to 
gladden thousands, why should not some of it gladden 
me by gladdening mine? There is gold enough for 
others but none for me. I have drank of Acheron, 
let me now drink of Lethe. My past let me consign 
to oblivion, and regenerate once more take my place 
among the honorable of the earth. Bring forth the 
divining-rod, the witch-hazel of the epidemic demono- 
pathy, and let its subtleties become so clearly percep- 
tible to the sublimated brain of the bearer, that the 
arch-witch gold may be found, aye, gold I aye, gold I 

Hundreds went mad. Lunatics roamed the streets 
at large ; indeed, it sometimes seemed as if all were 
lunatics. Horrible is the disordered laugh of mad- 
men and fiends ; and so is the hollow mournful mirth 
of rioting starvelings, making dismal with their half- 
ghostly orgies the lonely canon. But they were not 
all as insane as they seemed. Should any object dear 
to them be laid in their pathway, they would turn 
aside the evil influences of their avarice or morality, as 
Ulysses, who affected madness to escape the Trojan 
campaign, turned aside his plough when the infant 
Telemachus was laid in the furrow. 

Prostrate in blank despair, oblivious from drink, or 
battling undismayed, the life struggle still continues. 
Walk round the arena, pass by the fortunate — they 
are the exceptions, and can care for themselves — but 
glance at some who have fallen. The old white-whis- 
kered bell-boy who answers your summons at the 
hotel was once a wholesale grocer, with a business of 
six millions a year ; that waiter in the restaurant was 
once colonel in the Austrian service; an aide-de-camp 
to Larmorcier hires himself to a paper-hanger; there 
is a doctor driving a dray, here a graduate of Trinity 
college, Dublin, tending bar, and so on. 

As the development of the country increased its 
classical abnormities, with some of its greatest charms 
diminished, and with the glamour of unreality origin- 



ally thrown over all removed, pioneers began to look 
back upon it as a dream. 

Time rolls on, and between the river banks and 
wooded hills smile little garden spots, enclosing 
neat white cottages, to which distance lends the flavor 
of the old-time home, where wives so long and anx- 
iously waited the return of their rough darlings. And 
here they are still, far from the land of their birth, 
youth's hopes perished, hastening to untimely graves. 
Hatefully shines the new-minted metal, the price of 
conscience, of love, the reward of life's failure I 

Slumber now is wooed not by the soft low tones of 
wife and children; the care-heated brain is soothed 
not by the magic touch of fairy fingers, nor is the 
roused heart calmed by the uplifting and out-going 
influences of family prayer and praise. Mingled with 
the coyote's howl comes the sound of revelry from the 
adjacent camp, while the panting river and the sigh- 
ing wood sing their lonely lullaby. 

And to the man of merchandise in the busy city's 
marts arise visions of home, of the native village, of 
friends beloved, of childhood scenes ; rocks, hills, and 
wood; meadow, orchard, and the clear running stream; 
garden and barn; pets and playmates, — these, and a 
thousand like things, haunt them in their leisure hours, 
intrude themselves during the hot perplexities of busi- 
ness, and mingle with their midnight dreams. Time 
was when there were hours, blessed hours, uncursed 
by any burning desire. 

. Carelessly standing in one corner of Sinclair's house, 
in the autumn of 1848, half covered by the old lumber 
which had been thrown upon it, was a fanega measure 
full of gold, all but half an inch. Now a fanega holds 
a bushel and a half One day came along Patrick 
McChristian, happy in charitable peace with the 
world, being himself in those days a prince among 
the diggers, for his pockets were always stufled with, 
his several thousands. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 25 


"What ye got there?" demanded Pat, as his sharp 
eye caught the glorious color beneath the rubbish. 
^' O, nothing much," Sinclair replied, "my men brought 
it in." ^ 'Ain't ye afraid somebody will steal it ?" asked 
Pat, as he threw off the articles that covered it, and 
took a long and deep look into it. " I don't lie awake 
nights about it," Sinclair said. ** You may have it, 
Pat, if you will carry it away ; yes, if you will lift it 
but three inches from the ground." Sinclair was a 
man of his word, but McChristian knew well enough 
the feat to be impossible. Nevertheless, he could not 
resist the temptation of plunging his hands into it, of 
stirring it up and smoothing it down, and finally, just 
for the fun of it, of taking a tug at it. " Only three 
inches from the ground," again Sinclair quietly re- 
marked, ''and it is yours, so help me." 

Pat lifted, straining himself into seriousness, strain- 
ing until he saw sky-rockets and shooting stars. It 
was of no use. The measure clave to the ground as 
if riveted there. It would not leave it a hair's 
breadth, and Pat was obliged to go forth and content 
himself with increasing his fortune by slower degrees. 

The quality of their fellowship was rare indeed. 
Not more singular and hearty in verse was the wel- 
come Horace gave Lucius Varius, his friend and 
fellow-student at Athens, and the fellow-soldiers at 
Philippi, than that given in reality by these rough 
digging men to a returned comrade. 

** Pour till it touch the shining goblet's rim, 
Care -drowning massic; let rich ointments flow 
From amplest conchs ! No measure we shall know ! 
What ! shall we wreaths of oozy parsley trim 

Or simple myrtle ? Whom will Venus send 
To rule our revel ? Wild my draught shall be 
As Thracian Bacchanals', for 'tis sweet to me 
To lose my wits, when I regain my friend. " 

Under the shaggy uncombed locks were finely 
tempered brains puzzling over the body's destiny; 
and beneath gray woolen shirts were hearts, some 
large some small, beating to the measures now of 
celestial songs and now of Abaddon's wing-flaps. 


Behold the bummer I An unlearned man of modest 
bearing, but fathomless cheek. Or if he be a legal 
or political bummer we call him brick. He, too, ma}^ 
sicken you with nauseating words, or be as quarrel- 
some, indolent, insolent, vicious, gambling, drink- 
ing, fighting, and dandified as any member of the 
Macaroni club that cursed Yauxhall gardens. This 
man never did a day's work in his life, never did a 
useful thing, never earned an honest dollar, never 
drew an honest breath. What he eats is not his own ; 
his own flesh and blood does not belong to him. 
And when invited to partake, such invitation being 
the ever-present hope and aim of earthly existence, 
he takes from his mouth his tobacco quid, as the ser 
pent vomits its venom before drinking for fear of 
poisoning itself. 

The godless miners were not more free from super- 
stition than papist or puritan fanatic. Once a Texan 
charlatan, a tall, broad-shouldered, sallow-faced, livid- 
looking fellow, Fletcher by name, dropped down on 
Murphy's, and the worldly wise and cunning of that 
camp were caught as easily as mediaeval Christians. 
He professed to have discovered or invented a gold- 
ometer which would direct the possessor unfailingly 
to gold deposits, and enable him to trace unernngly 
the precious vein through all its dips and curves and 
angles, backing his statement by an ofi^er to bet one 
hundred dollars that in ten minutes he would find a 
purse of gold hidden within the limits of an acre of 
ground. No one cared to waste time over such 
trifling; surely he should know of what he was talk- 
ing; show them where the undug gold lay, and he 
should have his pay. Every man there had indulged 
in some little pet necromancy of his own conjuring 
which had cost far more than this ; they could but 
lose. And so the Texan wizard bled them. Taking 
his magical instrument, which consisted of a metal- 
mounted wooden pointer split at one end so as to take 
in the man's waist, he proceeded to the diggings be- 


yond the town, followed by a concourse of eager ex- 
pectants. Arrived on the spot, after certain incanta- 
tory preliminaries which would have put to blush a 
Kadiak Shaman, he began to grope about as if in 
darkness, then suddenly starting up he struck out a 
zigzag course as if following a vein. Round the spur 
of the hill and down the opposite slope, over claims 
and through gardens the talisman-directed Texan 
went, while the crowd rushed for pick and shovel 
with which to mark out the line and unearth the 
treasure. Down they went, digging with a will, five, 
ten, fifteen feet, and no vein was struck. Deeper said 
the sage, and a crevice twenty-five feet in depth, 
which let the sunlight strike subterranean waters, was 
opened without result. A sense of swindle began to 
steal over those diggers and they went for the Texan 
goldometer man. But the end was not yet. Select- 
mg one from their number he seated him on an empty 
whiskey keg, and began to mesmerize him and breathe 
into him the spirit of prophecy. Shortly the spirit- 
ualized miner began to talk, and he informed his eager 
listeners that gold was surely there, but that it lay ten 
feet deeper than they had yet dug. Satisfied by this 
voice from another world, they continued their work, 
but now with much greater difficulty, for besides be- 
ing obliged to hoist their dirt they must pump out the 
water which constantly flowed in upon them, so that 
before they had reached the required depth the 
Texan had ample time to make his escape. 

It was in the winter of 1849-50. Two men whose 
claims had yielded, every working-day during the 
winter not less than $140, and from that to $320, 
abandoned it early in the spring in order to hunt for 
something better. After a dangerous and fatiguing 
tramp over the yet covered snow-ridges, spending sev- 
eral months turning the channel of a stream which 
yielded nothing, they turned their faces backward and 
entered the nearest mining camp, without a dollar, and 
with nothing that would buy bread, unless it was a 


double-barrel shot gun. The weapon was worth fifty 
dollars, but no one would buy it; the traders had 
stacks of old guns, which they could not dispose of, 
and no one just then happened to want such an arti- 
cle. Their case was becoming desperate ; night was 
coming on, and the empty stomachs called loudly for 
food. Taking the gun in his hand, one of them stepped 
iip before a store and called out, ''Who'll give me five 
dollars for this gun ? " One smiled, another shook his 
head, no one wanted it. At length the store-keeper 
reached out his hand and said, ''Let me look at it." 
After examining it, said he, " I'll play you five dollars 
worth of pork against the gun." "Agreed," replied 
the impecunious miner. The miner won. "Now I'll 
play you five dollars worth of flour against the gun." 
The miner agreed, played, and won again. This was 
too much for the speculative proclivities of the crowd, 
and one of the lookers-on immediately bantered the 
lucky owner of the gun to play him five dollars in 
money against it, which was promptly accepted and 
won. "Now boys," said the miner, again holding up 
the gun, "I've made a raise ; that let's me out ; any 
of you can have the gun that wants it." Of course 
no one took it, and the miner then rising and picking 
up his pork, flour, money, and the gun he could not 
sell, but which had, nevertheless, served him a most 
fortunate turn, joined his comrade, when the two 
hastened to satisfy their hunger. 

Some appeared blindly to stumble from one piece of 
good fortune upon another. A nasal-voiced New 
Englander in 1849, thought he would try CaHfornia 
in a small way for a short time. So buying a ticket 
for $395, he sailed lazily down into the tropics and 
crossed the Isthmus. That, however, was a dull busi- 
ness ; besides he was making nothing. Arrived at 
Panamd, he scratched his head, went to bed, and rose 
in the morning and rubbed his eyes. Then he went 
out and sold the remainder of his ticket which was to 


carry him to San Francisco for $700, hired himself as 
butcher to the steward of the same steamer for $100 
the passage, bought a pick in San Francisco, and fol- 
lowed the crowd to the mines, turned up gold the first 
blow he struck, took out $9,000 in the course of a 
few days, sold his claim for $2,000, and returned 
home to marry Hannah and set his traps for a 

Probably there never existed "a community more 
prodigal in their generosity, and more nmnificent in 
their charities than the fortune-hunters of California. 
It is nothing new, it is nothing paradoxical, to see 
lavish expenditures attending successful ventures ; and 
often it is that the more men risk for money the freer 
they will spend it. With Spanish conquerors human 
life was held in low esteem as compared with gold, 
which once obtained was flung about as a thing of 
little value. Winning gold with sword, shovel, or 
cards, does not breed economy. 

Few camps at the first were without their quarrel- 
some cut-throats, who, like Achilles, preferred an 
early death with glory to a long and quiet fameless 
life. It was the assassin's paradise. In the faces of 
some were painted the colors of debauchery. Rude- 
ness was their rule of courtesy. 

The sun contains neither gold, silver, tin, lead, nor 
mercury, and yet the lusty diggers loved the sun. 
They slept on the gently sloping hill-side, or down in 
the dry beds of the rivers, roofed only by the timbered 
banks, and lighted only by the dim cathedral light of 
the stars, which slid their rays through the rents in 
the foliage overhead. Chaste as Diana, the yellow 
metal seemed to possess her power, and turn intrud- 
ing Acteons into stags. Boys still in feeling, their 
locks began to silver, and soon they were old men. 

As regards gold, for which these men had come so 
far, and toiled so hard, and sacrificed so much ; gold, 
for which loved ones far away were even now suffer- 


ing, waiting with fond and faithful expectation the 
wanderer's return, surely every grain of it should be 
dearer than his life's blood to the finder, and hoarded 
as miser never yet hoarded wealth. Let us seS. Says 
the alcalde of Monterey : *' My man Bob, who is of 
Irish extraction, and who has been in the mines about 
two months, returned to Monterey four weeks since, 
bringing with him over two thousand dollars as the 
proceeds of his labor. Bob, while in my employ, re- 
quired me to pay him every Saturday night in gold, 
which he put into a little leather bag, and sewed into 
the lining of his coat, after taking out just twelve and 
a half cents, his weekly allowance for tobacco. But 
now he took rooms, and began to branch out; he had 
the best horses, the richest viands, and the choicest 
wines in the place. He never drank himself, but it 
filled him with delight to brim the sparkling goblet 
for others. I met Bob to-day and asked him how he 
got on. *0, very well,' he replied, 'but I am off 
again for the mines.' * How is that. Bob ? You 
brought down with you over $2,000 ; I hope you have 
not spent all that ; you used to be very saving — twelve 
and a half cents a week for tobacco, and the rest you 
sewed into the lining of your coat.' * 0, yes,' replied 
Bob, ^ and I have got that money yet ; I worked hard 
for it, and the devil can't get it away, but the $2,000 
came asily by good luck, and has gone as asily as it 

A negro, finding himself adrift in the gold-land, 
thought to lay in a store, so striking out with the rest, 
he began at once to realize his hopes. He had not long 
been at work when a rusty miner, bristling with bowie- 
knives and revolvers, came down upon him. 

"Hello, you' black scoundrel, what are you doing 
in my claim?" 

"Beg pardon, massa; didn't know dis yore claim." 

Glad to get away with his black skin unpunctured, 
he next essayed an empty hole at the foot of the hill, 


but no sooner was he fairly at work when he was 
greeted with : 

"Get out of there, you infernal nigger, or I'll blow 
your head off I" 

" Good Lord, massa, is dis yore hole? Where, then, 
shall I dig?" 

"Go up on top of the hill and dig, and be damned,," 
was the reply. 

The negro went, not dreaming that he had been 
directed thither as the most unlikely place to find 
gold in the whole district. Nevertheless, he sunk a 
shaft, at the bottom of which he found gold, which he 
took out to the value of $4,000. The place was named 
Negro hill, and proved to be the richest diggings in 
all that retrion. 

Labor was the only honorable occupation, and labor 
was essential to manhood. He who did not work was 
a social bastard, and a shirk. Lodging-houses in 
early times consisted of a shanty, with walls lined 
with standing berths, having coarse beds always ready 
made, so that the proprietor had little else to do than 
to sit on a stool and take the money. A miner once 
having occasion to occupy such a bed in San Francisco 
seemed troubled in mind as he weighed out the dust, 
and finally broke out with : 

"Say, stranger, do you just sit thar and take a dol- 
lar from every man that sleeps on them beds?" 

"Yes, that's my business," replied the keeper. 

"Then," said the troubled miner, slowly, as if talk- 
ing to himself, "its a damned mean way to make a 
living, that's all I've got to say about it." 

See that fortnightly steamer, proudly furrowing her 
way through the great deep from Panamd to San 
Francisco ! To the scattered inhabitants of this vast 
Pacific slope she brings intelligence from the old busy 
east. Here is money and merchandise ; here profit 
and losses ; here germs of fortune and seeds of bank- 
.ruptcy. This, however, is not all. This ocean- 


plougher, a thing of life, comes freighted with high 
destiny. Laden with how many tons of joy and sor- 
row comes she ? How many bundles of love and hate 
brings she ? How many thousands of little packets of 
happiness and misery are to be distributed from the 
mass of mail-sacks in her hold ? 

Many were the men coming from the mines with 
their little bag of hard-earned gold-dust, just enough 
to carry them home, and perhaps a little more, who 
fell victims to the ?light-of-hand sharks of Long 
Wharf. It is strange that so many simple ones with 
beards and brawny arms and wrinkled faces should be 
found among those who had spent a year or more in 
the country. It certainly speaks well for their asso- 
ciates in the mines; but most of the weather-beaten 
innocents were western men who came across the 
plains and had never seen New York, San Francisco, 
or any other large city, and the professionals of Long 
Wharf were adepts, and very shrewd. Numberless 
were the complaints of these old infants before the re- 
corder, of having been inveigled under some pretext 
into a low den, and there robbed, or induced to bet on 
some sure thing. The cappers for these houses could 
put their hands upon their victim among a thousand; 
usually in some way they professed friendship for 
the countryman, and gained his confidence — he was 
from the same state, w^as likewise going home, was 
just about to procure his ticket, would show his friend 
the way, stopping, accidentally of course, at the house 
of his thieving associates. 

Thus in the mines were elements instinct with riot 
and unrest, while in the cities numberless were the 
disgraceful bankruptcies attributable to foppery and the 
indulgence of the palate. Such as these, emptying at 
one long draught the Circe-proiFered cup, straightway 
were turned to swine, retaining yet their human facul- 
ties. To some it seemed as if a ])remium was laid on 
indulgence and extravagance. Fires were sweeping 


away cities and their contents ; floods spread periodic 
desolation over the land, mining and business ventures 
were like staking money — or what was worse, time, 
sinew, health — only from the falling of the dice, and 
from that which a man spent could he expect to re- 
ceive benefit. 

Every mining-camp had its Anacreon, its jovial and 
musical toper, who drank and sang in praise of wine 
and love. Every camp had its ruling spirits, careless 
of the morrow if only they might by the magic of 
their gold, ardently spiritualized by drink, be perfectly 
happy for to-day, They were as wild in their beliefs 
and theories of gold-deposits as was Samuel Lover's 
fairy-finder. Darby Kelleher, who threatened to make 
mincemeat of little drunken Doctor MacFinn, whom 
he mistook for a Leprehaun, if he did not straightway 
fill his chest with gold. 

It was a matter of no small pride to go back home 
successful, and thousands remained and died rather 
than be seen by their friends as poor as when they 
went away. **Home or the mines!" was the watch- 
word of more than one gambling venture. There was 
an Englishman who, having secured a bag of gold-dust, 
the result of a summer's work in the mines, reached 
anchorage at Liverpool with his treasure in safety; 
but on going ashore, the gang-plank gave way, and 
he was precipitated into the water. To save himself 
he dropped his bag of gold, and was never able to re- 
cover it. Happening to have about him just enough 
to pay his fare to California, he immediately purchased 
a ticket, and returned to the mines without ever once 
casting eyes on his old home, or grasping his friends 
by the hand. 

But the lucky ones ! How forever after by all the 
villagers they were held in reputation as the bravest 
and wisest of men, even as was Haddad Ben Ahab, 
who journeyed to the wall of the earth's end, and 
from its top gazed on the mysteries beyond. Yet 
there were some who, after a weary search for great 


things, returned to their homes, only to find their des- 
tiny in village labor, their fathers at first seeming in 
their eyes old-fashioned, fossilized, non-progressive 
men of la vieille roche. 

The stories told by returned Californians were to 
their hearers fabulous ; and they were, indeed, too often 
as little worthy of literal belief as the wonders Kabelais 
narrated concerning his hero — how seventeen thousand 
cows and more scarcely supplied the babe with milk ; 
how the mare on which he rode was as large as six 
elephants; how he cut lettuce as big as walnut trees, 
used for his hair a comb nine hundred feet long, and 
for a toothpick an elephant's tusk. 



Some sufifer them selfe for defaut of aparaunce, 
To be outlawyd, and other some suspendyd, 
Out of the churche for hys mys goueranunce, 
And yet nought caryth, therfro to be defendyd, 
Howe beit they myglit: and haue theyr mater endyd, 
Suche assay by falshode to prouoke the lawe, 
And than it fle, and them therefro with drawe. 

The Ship of Fools. 

Squatterism is the doctrine or system which has 
for its base the maxim eminently American that all 
citizens have equally the right to share in the com- 
mon property of the country, particularly in the public 
domain. The terms squatter and settler are often 
used synonomously, the former being no more a word 
of opprobrium than the latter. A squatter is one 
who takes possession of and settles on unoccupied 
land. He may do so legally, taking possession of 
lands belonging to the government, and in accordance 
with all the requirements of government, or he may 
plant himself on lands belonging to another or 
on lands in dispute, or on lands covered by Mexi- 
can grants of which he had no knowledge, or in the 
validity of which he had no faith. The term settler 
is rather the more respectable of the two, as that im- 
plies simply one who makes his home upon a piece of 
ground formerly either public domain, or land held by 
another and acquired by purchase. Thus we see a 
squatter may be a settler, and a settler may be a 
squatter. There is this distinction, and this only : a 
settler is seldom intentionally a fraudulent squatter, 
although a squatter may be a respectable settler. As 


a rule, however, the term squatters is applied to those 
who settle upon the lands of another, or upon lands 
in dispute, while the settler is one of that worthy and 
enterprising class who enter upon and subdue unap- 
propriated public domain, and thereby establish a 
claim, by virtue of first actual possession, to the right 
of purchase or of title in conformity with law. Of 
course a man may settle himself in town or in a 
thickly populated district; but the term is usually 
used as I have said. Between the honest settler and 
the unprincipled squatter there was a marked differ- 
ence. The one was contented with what land he 
could use, and willing his neighbor should have 
as much; he did not oppose monopoly in another 
while practising it himself; he was not unjustly agra- 
rian, but ready to respect the rights and titles of 
others, as he would have others respect his. If the 
large grant-holders came into possession of their lands 
justly and in accordance with law, the land was theirs. 
If our government promised to respect those rights, 
it should do so, at whatever cost to its citizens. With- 
out going back to the time when these grants were 
made, when the Mexican authorities could not give 
their lands away, and regarded every loyal settler an 
acquisition compared with which a few leagues of 
land were as nothing ; without taking into the account 
the necessities of these grant-holders for broad lands 
for grazing purposes, their risks of life and property 
among the wild natives, their isolation, and their 
chances of never again living in civilized society, — 
which indeed, but for the accidental discovery of gold, 
they would not, nor scarcely did then, — without tak- 
ing these and the like into consideration at all, the 
holders of large land grants righteously obtained are 
as much entitled to protection as any other class of 
men in their possessions. 

The squatter of the California flush times was one 
who assumed the name of settler without being en- 
titled to it. He was a professional gull, ever hover- 


ing about some oroad-acred pelican, which had dived 
into the depths for its possessions, and held them 
rightfully. He it was who speculated in town lots, 
staked oif farming lands, jumped mining claims^ and 
stole the nest of another rather than build one of his 
own; waiting and watching for opportunities to pounce 
upon the property of others if so be he might escape 
the law's penalty. 

The squatters of Sacramento, affirming that the 
lands of Sutter belonged to the United States, re- 
solved, in July 1850, to hold possession of that which 
they had seized, peaceably if possible, forcibly if neces- 
sary ; and if the bail of an arrested squatter should be 
refused simply because the bondsman was not a land- 
holder under Sutter, all executions issued in conse- 
quence thereof should be deemed illegal, and the 
associated squatters should ''act accordingly." 

A commission was appointed by act of congress, 
early in 1851, for the purpose of ascertaining and set- 
tling private land claims in California. It was to 
consist of three commissioners appointed by the presi- 
dent, a secretary skilled in the Spanish and English 
languages, and not to exceed five clerks ; it was to 
continue for three years, unless sooner terminated by 
the president. An attorney was- to be appointed to 
attend the meetings of the board, and guard the inter- 
ests of the United States in the premises. The com- 
mission might summon witnesses, and administer 
oaths; and every person claiming lands in California 
by virtue of any right or title derived from the Span- 
ish or Mexican governments, should present the same 
to the commissioners when sitting as a board, together 
with such documentary evidence and testimony of 
witnesses as the claimant relied upon in support of his 
claim. Appeals from the commission might be made 
to the United States district court, and thence to the 
United States supreme court. Three tedious tribu- 
nals, attended by harassing and expensive litigation, 
were thus to be undergone before the land-holder was 


secured in the peaceable possession of what in the be- 
ginning was his own. 

In deciding upon the vahdity of claims, the com- 
missioners and courts were to be governed by the 
treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the laws of nations, the 
laws, usages, and customs of the government from 
which the claim is derived, the principles of equity, 
and the decisions of the supreme court of the United 
States so far as applicable. A. patent should issue to 
claimants for all claims finally confirmed ; those finally 
rejected should be considered as part of the public 
domain of the United States. Land granted by the 
Mexican authorities for the establishment of a town 
in existence on the 7th day of July, 1846, and town, 
farm, or pasture lots held under a grant from a cor- 
poration to which lands were granted for town pur- 
poses, did not come under the jurisdiction of these 
commissioners ; and the fact of the existence on the 
above mentioned day of any town or city being duly 
proved was prima facie evidence, either of a grant to 
the corporate authorities or to the individual, under 
which holders might claim. It was the duty of the 
commissioners to ascertain and report to the secretary 
of the interior the tenure by which the mission lands 
were held, and those held by tame Indians, agricul- 
turalists, rancheros, and pueblos. 

It was hoped that when California became a state 
the uncertainty in regard to land titles, which exer- 
cised so fatal an influence on agriculture and settle- 
ment, would be quickly terminated ; but it was about 
a year after congress had created a commission, whose 
duration, as I have said, was limited to three years, 
that the commissioners presented themselves in Cal- 

Many of those who emigrated to California were 
informed, and undoubtedly believed, that the vast 
territory ceded by Mexico, and whose beauty and 
fertility had been so extolled, was at the time of its 
cession the public property of Mexico, and as such, 


with the change of sovereignty, became the public 
property of the United States. Under that belief 
they came with their famihes, household goods and 
cattle, feeling certain that an abundance of valuable 
agricultural land was to be had for the taking. 
Therefore, when on arrival they found all the best 
arable lands covered by enormous grants to the Mexi- 
cans and others ; that their government had neglected 
to carry out treaty stipulations to determine the valid- 
ity of those claims; that the lands of native Cali- 
fornians even were daily wrested from them by com- 
binations of squatters and thievish lawyers, they were 
greatly disappointed and naturally indignant. Then 
it was that breaking down all hedge-rows of law and 
logic, they struck the bold decision that these preten- 
tious ten-league land-holders were usurping monopo- 
lists, who, like savages, unjustly held from advancing 
civilization broad areas of God's earth for which they 
had paid nothing, had no use, and to which they had 
no right. Nor were there lacking lawyers and politi- 
cal demagogues ever ready at hand to feed the 
fire of their unjust anger and prey upon their pre- 

The immigrants complained in a memorial to con- 
gress, forwarded in December 1849, when social quiet 
was most disturbed by the squatter excitement, that 
they had come hither in the belief that their govern- 
ment had purchased this territory from Mexico, and 
that they had the right to preempt and settle upon 
lands here as in any other part of the public domain. 
But, instead of possessing that right they had found 
themselves to be trespassers, subject to the extortion- 
ate demands of pretended owners. Denied them was 
the privilege to pitch a tent, to plant, to build, to 
occupy. There is scarcely a spot fit for a settlement, 
town-site, or farm, said they, that is not crossed with 
Mexican titles or Spanish grants, and held by the 
possessors for speculative purposes, greatly to the in- 
jury of bona fide settlers. Thirty miles square in the 


Sacramento valley are claimed by two persons, who 
parcel it out to gambling speculators for the purpose 
of obtaining high prices from actual settlers, and this 
was but a single instance. 

There were not wanting men to espouse the cause 
of law and order, in its relation to squatterism, as 
elsewhere, and to cry loudly against the violation of 
the sacred principles that constitute the frame-work 
of society, whenever such violation stood between 
them and titles to lands held or coveted. On the 
other hand, if law and order stood between them and 
their interests, they were the foremost to espouse 
squatterism and brute-force title. The Herald, at 
first the great champion of reform, the leader of the 
people, and the instigator of committees of vigilance, 
was denounced by its contemporaries, as later it de- 
nounced the leaders of the reform of 1856. *' Nothing 
more plainly proves the real opinion of many land- 
holders and speculators in the city," says one, writing 
in the autumn of 1850, "regarding the validity of 
their titles, than the reckless and desperate course 
they are now pursuing, as expressed through their 
hireling newspaper organs, at the head of which 
stands the Herald. If the present judges cannot, 
like most of our old alcaldes, be bribed to uphold 
the existing system of land-ownership, and in the 
face of all law, equity, reason, honesty, and common 
sense, decide that the beach and water lots, as well 
as the greater portion of the rest of the city, are in- 
disputable titles in the names of those holding them 
under such a system, I would ask the Herald and 
its supporters what they expect to gain by over- 
turning these courts, murdering the judges, and rais- 
ing a civil war to destroy the very government which, 
for the time being, alone gives any support and coun- 
tenance to the dishonest and fraudulent land robbery 
practised not only in this city but in all parts of 

Low indeed lie the social sewers through which 

Cal. Int. Poc. 26 


flow our party politics. Out of the depths, all whiskey- 
soaked and in ignorance drenching, were brought 
Erin's exiles to be made kings. Then the down -trod- 
den African was lifted to the bosom of northern re- 
publicans, and borne tenderly to the polls. Next in 
turn come the Chinamen, now called pig-tailed, and 
turned into social swine, grunting under the blows of 
the lordly Irishman ; but when needed by a political 
party every one of them should be a sweet John, 
and a lovely almond-eyed American voter. The 
squatters of California were at first denounced by the 
officers of the law, who called them outlaws, murderers ; 
but when these same office-holders desired reelection, 
and squatterism had become a power in the state, 
then candidates of every party vied with each other 
in grovelling prostration. From their vocabulary 
the term ''squatter" was stricken, and every land- 
robber was an honest settler. 

The immigrants were undoubtedly much disappointed 
at not being able to step in and take possession of the 
choicest morsels of the new domain, and thereupon 
indulojed their discrust with all the senseless bombast 
common to enraged, free-born citizens of the great 
American republic. With wagons, tents, and equip- 
age, with guns, knives and pistols, they swarmed up- 
on the lands of the grant-iiolders, threatening death 
to any who interfered, and even went so far as to ap- 
proach the verge of growing towns and stake off upon 
the principal streets, beyond the limits of the occupied 
portions, town lots at intervals of forty ieet, marking 
the stakes with the names of the claimants, and the 
time from which such possession dated. 

Thus it was that very early in the history of Ameri- 
can occupation in California, squatterism became an 
evil. It was indeed only a phase of mob law, but with 
this important difference. A resort to popular, arbi- 
trary administration of justice might, under certain 
circumstances, be excusable in criminal cases, where 
the vital principles of social good conduct were at 


stake ; but in civil differences, which by no possi- 
bility can a resort to arms in any wise lessen, and 
which must ultimately be determined by arbitration, 
by the courts, by common sense and reason, and by 
nothing else, fighting is brutish. In squatterism the 
existence of courts is ignored, not because, as is the 
case with vigilance committees, justice cannot be ob- 
tained and the guilty escape, but because justice is 
tardy and claimants are impatient. And then the 
men of California had so long been thrown upon 
themselves for the redress of grievances, that they 
had acquired the habit of fighting their own battles, 
deeming a resort to law contemptible petty-fogging. 
No 1 the first, the brawny arm, the knife, the re- 
volver, these were the tools for them I Away with 
law and title deeds ; we want not reason, we want the 
property ! 

Swarms of squatters settled on every available spot 
about San Francisco, whether already claimed or not. 
The sand hills were so fenced in, without regard to 
roads or regularity, that it was with difiiculty a 
wagon could make its way beyond the suburbs in any 
direction. Fights between claimants were frequent, 
women joining the men in their shooting scrapes, and 
not infrequently officers in the discharge of their du- 
ties would be threatened. Most of the land at El 
Rincon, that is to say Rincon Point, or Rincon Hill, 
was held by the government as a reserve. The 
United States leased it for a time to Theodore Shilla- 
ber, who, upon attempting to take possession the 28th 
of February, 1850, found it covered with squatters, 
men of Sydney and that class, who refused to pay rent 
or vacate. Captain Keys then in charge at the pre- 
sidio, detailed twenty soldiers to the place, who de- 
molished the tents and shanties and drove off the 
squatters. One of them brought suit against the 
captain for damages which was dismissed by the 
court. In July 1853 the sheriff, Johnson, was shot 
by a squatter while placing in possession the rightful 


owner of a lot on Mission street ; Union Square was 
fenced in, and when by order of the mayor the street 
commissioner attempted to remove it, the claimant 
drew a pistol but was disarmed before he could use it. 
It was in a quarrel over a lot on Greenwich street 
that John Baldwin, an old and respected citizen, was 
shot dead by one Hetherington. There was a multi- 
tude of affairs of this nature, many of which resulted 

Samuel Brannan in 1851 had deeded the Odd Fel- 
lows' ground for a cemetery, and by mid-summer 1853 
squatters swarmed on it. In certain quarters there 
appeared something like systematic organization with 
wealth behind appearances. 

It appears that Captain Folsom experienced no 
little trouble from the squatter. He repeatedly em- 
ployed armed bodies of men to clear his property, 
tear down fences, demolish houces and drive off claim- 
ants. This was a rather arbitrary practise for a 
whilom government officer; but the courts were slow, 
much slower than gunpowder; and when property was 
rapidly appreciating and depreciating, lengthy litiga- 
tions would entail loss even to the winner. A lot on 
the corner of Mission and Third streets was the scene 
of a fatal squatter riot about the first of June 1854. 
Some ten men were engaged on either side. The 
police were rather inclined to favor the squatters, but 
they were finally ejected. In this disgraceful affair 
two men were killed and five wounded. 

So rank had become this evil that holders of prop- 
erty under title derived from the city, and others, 
held a meeting on the 5th of June, 1854, at the office 
of Theodore Payne and Company, and steps were 
taken toward the appointment of a special police for 
the protection of their lots, or in other words, for the 
organization of a band of fighting men to drive away 
the squatters. Something of the kind was needed, 
and, indeed, justifiable, for the squatters had entrenched 
themselves on Mission street, and threatened havoc 


and death, fire and extermination, should any attempt 
be made to expel them. Fort Larkin the place was 
called, in honor of one of the ringleaders. The galley 
of a saihng-vessel, perforated with port-holes, had 
been planted as a fortress on the disputed lot, over- 
looking which, on a sandy eminence, stood a dilapi- 
dated shanty, the headquarters of the belligerents who 
thus aspired to become owners of lots by merely tak- 
ing possession of them. The next day a much larger 
meeting for the suppression of squatterism was held 
at Musical Hall. 

More and more audacious the squatters of Mission 
street became every day. And the infection for ob- 
taining property without rendering an equivalent 
spread rapidly over the city. Soon there was scarcely 
a lot that was not fenced in and guarded, either by its 
rightful owner or by some wrongful claimant. Pres- 
ently squatter rose up against squatter, and fought 
each other. On Green street, between Stockton and 
Powell, James Lick owned a lot which two squatters 
claimed simultaneously, Murphy and Duffy being the 
contending claimants, and each backed by a sub- 
claimant. One party erected a fence, and when the 
other side attempted to pull it down, pistols were fired, 
and a woman and a man shot. The squatters were no 
less active than their opponents in holding meetings 
and forming secret associations. Before the disputed 
premises on Mission street armed men were stationed, 
who marched back and forth night and day like sen- 
tinels. The authorities at length took the matter up, 
and drove them away ; but scarcely were they out of 
sight before the squatters were back again in posses- 
sion, and nailing up their demolished fences. Finally 
they were effectually dislodged ; the rightful owners 
were then placed in possession, and peace again smiled 
upon the sand-hills. 

It was the fashion of purchasers of water-lots to 
stake off the limits of their submerged lands and fence 
them in by means of pile-drivers, paying little regard 


to the necessities of shipping or the rights of other 
claimants. This custom led to many fights along the 
city front, and numberless injunctions and complaints 
in the courts. 

Possession was generally regarded the best title, 
and to obtain or hold possession a resort to arms was 
of daily occurrence. In acquiring or maintaining title 
to the water-lots of Yerba Buena cove, the pile-driver 
was an important agent; superseding Irishmen, it 
fenced city blocks in the bay, and if dispossessed, fell 
back upon strategy to maintain possession. A certain 
block, for example, was wholly enclosed on three sides, 
and on the fourth the fence of piles was open only 
sufficient to admit a vessel. Just within this entrance 
were stationed two store ships, green water-dragons 
guarding possession, and keeping the pile-driver away 
from what it had with so much difficulty enclosed. 
Either the vessels must be carried by a storming party, 
and the aperture closed by the pile-driver, or they 
must be cut loose and turned adrift in the dead of tlie 
night. In this instance both devices were used and a 
long list of fights and law-suits followed. 

Hiram Pearson and F. Lawson were, on the 21st 
of September, 1853, accused before the recorder of 
assault with deadly weapons while attempting to take 
possession of a water lot. Pearson was discharged 
and Lawson held for trial. The contending parties, 
it appears, had fought in boats, one of which, an old 
hulk called the Bethel, Lawson scuttled, intending to 
sink it on the lot and so maintain possession. Shots 
were freely fired on both sides, and attempts made to 
throw each other overboard; but no lives were lost. 

One Pinkham, living ia April 1864 at the Potrero, 
thought to enrich his posterity by driving piles so as 
to enclose a number of overflowed lots in front of the 
glass-works. Others caught the infection; lines of 
piles were driven, and lots enclosed at intervals, from 
Potrero point half way to Steamboat point, and again 
nearly to the mouth of Mission creek. The desire 


for free suburban homesteads, and water-lots without 
pay, was always prevalent among the land-hungry of 
San Francisco, and recent grants made by the legis- 
lature seemed to have fired afresh their insane desires. 
The water-lots thus seized belonged to the state, and 
many piles were driven along the city front for which 
the greedy grabbers never received visible compensa- 

There was a difficulty in Marin county in August 
1854, which threatened to assume a serious aspect. 
Certain mission lands near San Rafael, which had 
been set apart by the Mexican authorities for religious 
purposes, were seized and staked off by an organized 
band of squatters, who determined to hold the prop- 
erty vie et armis. One wing of the mission buildings 
at San Rafael was, in 1849, used as a church, and the 
other as court and jury rooms ; other apartments were 
occupied by Mexican famihes with their dogs, hogs, 
and cattle. By order of the alcalde, William Rey- 
nolds, the city was surveyed in 1850 and laid off in 
town lots with a Mexican title. The price of lots was 
fixed at thirty dollars each, and a day appointed by 
the alcalde for the sale, the first applicant to receive 
the first choice. A great rush was made for lots by 
those who had failed to make their fortunes in San 
Francisco sand-hills ; but the town, developing more 
slowly than was anticipated, many of them were al- 
lowed to fall into the hands of the tax-gatherer. The 
land in dispute bordered upon the town, and was part 
of the old mission orchard and vineyard, which had 
been neglected by the church and by its rightful own- 
ers for many years, and had at length fallen a prey to 
preemptors. On the 7th of August the church party, 
to the number of about twenty -five, appeared against 
the squatters with sticks and staves, and drove them 
from their shores. 

So habituated had the people of California become 
to trusting only to themselves for the accomplishment 
of their purpose, that mob law became the too frequent 


arbiter of important civil cases, especially in the set- 
tlement of squatter disputes, and in swindles affecting 
the general public. Whatever was wrongfully accom- 
plished by law, the people who had learned to look 
upon themselves as above the law, deemed it incum- 
bent upon them to make right, and this they did in 
the surest and most direct manner. 

The town of Oakland was thrown into a state of 
great excitement on the 27th of August, 1853, arising 
from the claims of Carpentier, Moore, and others to 
the long line of water property along the front. A 
meeting was held and resolutions passed repudiating 
these claims, and determining to divide such property 
equitably among the people. This, with the assist- 
ance of club and pistol, they proceeded to do. Two 
hundred and fifty citizens signed a pledge to stand 
by each other at all hazards. Then at it they went. 
Business was suspended; fighting was free to all; and 
the result was that Carpentier's men were beaten and 
ignominiously driven from the field. 

Nowhere did the energy and audacity of the squat- 
ters assume greater proportions than on the lands of 
John A. Sutter, in the Sacramento valley. Sutter s 
claim was beyond all question valid. He was the pio- 
neer in this region. He had received from the Mex- 
ican authorities a genuine grant, in due time confirmed 
by the United States government. He built a fort, 
cultivated the soil, and raised flocks and herds. If 
there were anywhere rights and conditions entitled to 
respect by immigrants, they were here present. 

The 14th of August, 1850, witnessed a serious 
aflray between the citizens and an organized band of 
squatters composed of emigrants who had taken up 
claims on unoccupied lands in and adjoining Sacra- 
mento. It appears that a case had lately been tried 
and decided against the squatters, the judge denying 
an appeal. This decision, together with what they 
deemed an illegal attempt on the part of an inferior 
court "^o make it final, ?o exasperated the squatters 



that they held a mass meeting, and declared the state 
government unlawful and the authorities not to be 
obeyed. Two of their number were arrested, charged 
with rebellion, and lodged in the prison brig. On 
the day above mentioned forty armed men, under a 
mounted leader, marched through the streets down 
to the prison brig for the purpose of releasing the 
prisoners, and also to recover certain lumber of which 
one of their number had been dispossessed. 

Arrived at the levee they found close at their heels 
a large crowd hooting at them, and making warlike 
demonstrations. The mayor, sheriff, and other offi- 
cials were on the spot. Closely pressed by the popu- 
lace, the squatters wheeled and fired. The mayor, 
assessor, and a dozen others were struck, several 
mortally. The fire was returned by the sheriff and 
his supporters, and continued for about an hour. 
The leader of the squatters was killed and the band, 
finally dispersed. Thus far five or six only were dead. 
Next day the sheriff with about twenty men set out 
in the direction of the fort for the purpose of arrest- 
ing such squatters as they could find. Stopping at a 
saloon to drink, the sheriff's party was fired upon by 
squatters concealed in an adjoining room, and a gen- 
eral melee ensued, in which three, including the 
sherifi*, were killed, several wounded, and four squat- 
ters taken prisoners. On receipt of the news, the 
governor, then at San Jose, ordered a brigade of 
militia to proceed to Sacramento and assist in quelling 
the riot. This uprising of the squatters was con- 
demned on all sides; a torrent of public indignation 
burst upon them from all parts of the state. For 
taking up arms against the constituted authorities, 
there appeared no justification, no palliation. Cali- 
fornia was not yet a state ; the titles to public lands 
and Mexican grants were ill understood, but a resort 
to arms was not the way to settle them. 

Such, briefly, was the great Sacramento squatter 
T-iot of 1850. The squatter party was composed 


chiefly of immigrants from the western states, where 
Spanish grants were unknown. Schooled in the doc- 
trine that all unoccupied Americaa soil is free, they 
knew and cared to know nothing of the land laws 
other than the laws of preemption ; and to be driven 
from tlieir lots by speculators claiming under the 
Sutter title was unbearable tyranny. 

The trouble had long been brewing. Much feeling 
prevailed during the whiter of 1849-50, and the 
squatter element then lacked only a leader openly to 
resist. Such a spirit at length appeared under the 
name of Dr Robinson, who was seconded by one 
Mahoney. One of the squatters had been ejected 
by the authorities, and two arrested as before men- 
tioned. Meanwhile the squatters had been collecting 
arms and ammunition with which to oppose the exe- 
cution of the law. Robinson was arrested, passed 
the form of trial, and was released. Not long after 
he was elected to the legislature from Sacramento 
county, an act on the part of the people significant of 
their sympathy. 

An organized band of squatters, some eighty in 
number, who had taken up claims on an island in 
Feather river, known as the Jimeno grant, told the 
deputy United States marshal, who in May, 1853, 
was attempting to serve certain summons, that they 
had contributed $3,000, with which to defend the 
suit, that they were now carry mg it to the supreme 
court, and if they lost it there they should then fight. 
They told the officer, moreover, that if he attempted 
to serve his summons they would kill him. The mar- 
shal retired and took the boat for San Francisco. 
Stopping at a wood-yard, he learned that the proprie- 
tor, Holiday, was one of the persons for whom he had 
a summons. The marshal delivered the writ and be- 
gan to read the summons, when he was interrupted 
with, ''Waal, I suppose I may as well kill you now as 
any time," at the same time receiving on his arm, 
which he had thrown up to protect his head, a blow 


which, had it not missed its aim, would have killed 
him. Being unarmed, and unable to procure a 
weapon on board, the officer was obliged to return 
without having accomplished his purpose. 

In May 1853, one of the frequent disputes arose as 
to the possession of a certain piece of land at Santa 
Barbara. Jack Powers had settled upon a tract 
about two miles from town, which Nicholas Den 
claimed to have leased for a number of years from the 
government. The case was decided in Den's favor in 
the district court, and afterward in the supreme court. 
Nevertheless, Powers refused to give up possession, 
claiming that as it was government property, it was 
free to all American citizens. Sheriff Twist deter- 
miued to eject him by force. Powers then collected 
fifteen of his friends, and formed a sort of barricade 
on the rancho, by felling trees, piling up logs, and ar- 
ranging wagons for the purpose. They had liquors 
and food provided for a number of days, and several 
pieces of music to enliven the time. Well armed 
with revolvers, rifles, and shot-guns they were pre- 
pared to resist the officers. Three of Powers' adher- 
ents, on the way to his place, encountered the sheriff 
and others, who were trying to take out the spikes 
that had been put hi the cannon the previous night. 
Words ensued as to their intended use of the cannon, 
which resulted in a serious melee with several 
wounded and some killed on both sides. 

Not less than 200 men, squatters on the Fitch, the 
Pena, and the Berreyesa grants, situated about 
Healdsburg on Russian river, banded for mutual pro- 
tection in movements defensive and aggressive. 
Sonoma and Santa Rosa valleys in common with al- 
most all parts of the state covered with Mexican 
grants, have been the scenes of repeated assassinations 
and outbreaks, of which I give n instance. In April 
1858 fifty armed men attacked the government sur- 
veyor, Tracy, then acting under instructions issued 
by Mandeville, surveyor general, seized and tore in 


pieces his papers, and informed him if he valued his 
life he would drop that business and go home, whicli 
Tracy was very glad to be able to do. The band then 
rode to the house of Pefia, where Lugo, one of the 
owners of a large tract, was stopping and forced him 
under threats of hanging to sign an article of release 
of title to certain lands, and also to immediately and 
forever retire from those parts. Next the mob pro- 
ceeded to Healdsburg, distant from the former frolic 
about six miles, in search of Dr Frisbie, a landholder 
whom they proposed to force into the relinquisliment 
of his title to a portion of his lands. The citizens 
rallied to the support of law and government, and 
though the squatters threatened to burn the town, 
held their ground, and the free-land men retired. 

At Suisun in December 1862 certain squatters 
against whom John B. Frisbie had obtained judg- 
ment, and a writ of restitution, refused to vacate 
when ordered to do so by the sheriff; whereupon that 
officer summoned to his aid a posse, and marched 
against them when they yielded. 

The original proprietors of Boise city, Idaho, 
bought the town site from ranchmen who had settled 
there, surveying it and laying it out in town lots ; to 
every one who wished to build a dwelling they gave 
a piece of ground. Business lots they sold. All 
went well until in the autumn of 1864, a judge and 
two lawyers dropped upon the place and then began 
lot-jumping and litigation. 

In some way the sentiment got abroad that the 
proprietor's title was valueless, that the ground on 
which the city was built was public domain, and that 
any one might settle on any unoccupied spot. Then 
the two lawyers revelled in fat. Those who had 
taken possession of their neighbor's property, hoping 
to get something for nothing, after submitting to ex- 
pensive litigations were obliged to step down from 
their position and leave the land to its original occu- 
pants and their successors. 


Such prisons are beyond all liberty. 


Lovely San Quentin 1 Saint thief ! Thief and no 
saint. Saint and the dwelHng place of thieves and 
other malefactors. The name and the naming were 
eccentric and mongrel, though, as it turned out, suita- 
ble enough, even considering that to Spanish ^' San " 
was given a foreign *' Quentin." 

To explain. Round that bright corner of San 
Francisco bay, where under the shadow of Tamalpais 
nestle the coves of Corte de Madera and San Rafael, 
with Punta de Quintin, as the point was called in 
Spanish times, between them, there once roamed with 
his people a native chieftain, who, on allowing him- 
self to be sprinkled on the head, and made a son of 
the church, as well as an liumble vassal of the Span- 
ish crown, was honored by the padre with the name 
of Quintin, after one of the saints. Now, this Quin- 
tin, like others we have known possessing Christianity, 
was very far from a Christian's ideal in his raids and 
other immoral practises, inasmuch as stealing and 
killing formed parts of his programmes. 

It has been claimed that the point was called San 
Quintin in remembrance of a victory won by the 
Spaniards over the French in 1547, in front of the 
city of San Quintin, the ancient Augusta Veroman- 
dorum ; but there is no evidence of that being a fact ; 
nor for placing San before Quintin. It was the 
aboriginal non-sanctus after whom it was named. 




Weird and hobgoblin were the uses and purposes, as 
well as the name and naming of the enchanted spot. 
From the ocean the rough breezes come tempered by 
warm airs rising from sunny meadows, while the fog- 
banks, filtered by the wooded slopes, wrap the thirsty 
earth in gentle moisture. Glorious indeed the view 
toward the east; the pliant sparkling water, the 
smooth billowy hills, and the shoaled and isleted 
shore winding between; while beyond, old Diablo, 
winks and blinks and nods as in uncouth wooing of 
the gorgeous wealth of beauty at its feet. 

A rare retreat, truly, for those whose lives are de- 
voted to the laborious occupation of unjustly appro- 
priating to their own use the property of others. 
Alas I that man should be obliged to shackle his 
fellow-man; that society after feeding and clothing 
from boyhood scoundrels who never in all their lives 
did one blow of honest or beneficial work, after pro- 
nouncing a formal condemnation should be obliged to 
lodge and feed and clothe them, in lots of hundreds 
and thousands for years and often for the remainder 
of their lives. Yet they would say how hard the 
devil drives his servants 1 

Before San Quentin was, there were villains ; but 
never have they been so well housed on these Pacific 
shores ; that is to say, those who have been publicly 
housed at all. Time was when this charmed shore 
of California played its role as a sort of penal settle- 
ment for a society rich in rascality. Mexico sent 
hither her criminals with the double intent, as her 
authorities had the assurance to say, of improving 
their morals and increasing the population of Califor- 
nia ; and to the petition for a lessening of the evil, to 
send only useful convicts, since California had no 
jails, no heed was paid for several years. Then, and be- 
fore, and since, were presidios for prisons, and mission- 
ary buildings for guard-houses. In those days class, 
and caste, and character entered largely into prison 
etiquette. Some convicts enjoyed the liberty of a 


free citizen, living on a rancho or in the pueblo ; others 
were restricted to certain districts, or confined within 
boundaries ; while yet others were doomed to shackles 
and hard labor under supervision of the garrison. 
In those days it was small pain to be a great villain, 
though woeful to sin lightly. 

Among the gold hunters, the ships that brought 
them out were sometimes turned into jails and peni- 
tentiaries under the name of prison brigs. San Fran- 
cisco boasted one of these, as likewise did Sacramento. 
The Enphemiay as the prison brig of San Francisco 
was called, was purchased about the first of August, 
1849, with the first money appropriated by the town 
council, elected by order of General Riley. This 
was the first regularly appointed place of confinement 
where rogues and convicts were kept in custody. 

When the old Euphemia proved inadequate to the 
rapidly increasing demand for prison facilities, other 
hulks were added to the prison service; and thus 
matters stood when in April, 1851, an act was passed 
by the legislature appointing a board of inspectors 
and giving James M. Estill, with whom was associated 
M. G. Vallejo, a contract for the control of the state 
prison, prisoners, and hulks for a term of ten years. 

The time was one of dear labor and eccentric en- 
terprise ; and it was thought to be a grand thing if 
the institution could be made self-supporting, and 
the prisoners be obliged to work for their bread. In 
this way the state would be relieved from the expense 
of guarding and maintaining its felons. But the 
government soon saw that it had committed a most 
egregious error. The abuses were manifold and fla- 
grant. Public weal was soon dropped out of the 
management, and immediate pecuniary profit became 
the dominant purpose. Such of the prisoners as it 
was found profitable to keep at work, were kept at 
hard labor from daylight till dark, Sundays and other 
days, chopping wood, making brick, or performing 
contracts m which such kind of servitude was found 


remunerative. The rest were permitted to escape. 
On one occasion, while a prison brig was lying at 
Angel island, the men at work and their guardians 
lolling in the cabin, the convicts quietly turned the 
key on them, and escaping to the adjacent mainland 
betook themselves to the woods. 

It soon became apparent that the hulk system failed 
to meet the requirements, and that ground must be 
selected and substantial buildings erected. The year 
following, namely, in April 1852, a bill passed the 
legislature providing for the erection of a state prison 
on the site purchased at Point Quintin. 

Even then the stone building which soon arose 
failed to accommodate all, nor would the interests of 
the contractors allow prisoners to be confined to one 
locality. Hulks were still used at different points. 
Men were likewise sent in squads under feeble guards 
to farms and woods ; many convicts were even des- 
patched unguarded to distant places. Great partiality 
was shown, thereby facilitating the escape of many a 

Still matters were far from prosperous ; and so clam- 
orous became the public, that in 1855 the legislature 
revoked the contract with Estill, and declared his 
lease forfeited. The state then assumed the manage- 
ment. A board of directors was appointed, and a 
strong wall twenty feet high, was thrown round the 
prison premises. In 1856, politics being more power- 
ful than public weal, and as a reward for his for- 
mer unfaithfulness, a fresh contract was made with 
the same Estill, with new restrictive conditions. He 
was to safely keep and maintain the state prisoners 
for the term of five years at a compensation of $10,000 
a year. So favorable to the lessee was this contract 
that Estill was enabled almost immediately to assign 
it to one McCauley at half the compensation allowed 

The principle was now a grinding one ; prison man- 
agement meant simply money. Abuses were ranker 


than ever ; so much so that in 1858 government again 
declared the contract annulled, and took forcible pos- 
session of the premises. The lieutenant-governor was 
made ex-officio warden, with a full staff, and the keys 
delivered to him. The assignee brought suit for dam- 
ages which was sustained by the supreme court. A 
compromise was agreed upon, but the state failed to 
meet its obligation. At last, in 1860, to get rid of 
him, a bonus was paid the assignee, since which time, 
if we except several extensive escapes, state-prison 
management has steadily improved. 

Prison discipline, penitentiary science, uniting with 
the system of reformatory efforts, are of late begin- 
ning. The castle donjons of the feudal barons had 
improved but little when civilization had largely ad- 
vanced in other directions. The eighteenth century 
had well-nigh gone before Howard made his famous 
expose of the wretched condition of prisons in England 
and Wales, and the great Millbank penitentiary, mod- 
eled by Jeremy Bentham, had not been built more 
than thirty years when the grounds at Quintin Point 
Were laid out; so that California, although the young- 
est of the great societies, is not so far behind the rest 
of the world in this regard as might be imagined. 

In almost all modern prisons industrial labor has 
taken the place of purely penal labor, such as the 
crank, shot-drill, and treadmill. All well-managed 
prisons are now self-supporting, or more than self- 
supporting Each prisoner, immediately he is 
incarcerated, whether in a state penitentiary or 
a county prison, should be put to work. Jails 
should not be conducted upon the free-boarding- 
house principle, but convicts should be made to earn 
their living, or as nearly so as possible. There are 
things useful that even children can do ; and if the 
food of the prisoner depended somewhat upon his 
earnings, it might tend to sharpen his wits over use- 
ful work. 

Cal. Int. Poc. 27 


There are different systems of prison management 
in the United States. In all state-prisons the con- 
tract system prevails, with some half dozen exceptions ; 
some are under state management, and some mixed. 
Several states show earnings amounting to more than 
expenses. In North Carolina the average cost of 
maintaining prisoners per capita in 1875 was about $90, 
while in Oregon it was over $300, and in Nevada 
nearly $400. 

In the average number of prisoners San Quentin 
with 900 or thereabouts, stands sixth. Sing Sing, in 
New York with 1300 being first, Auburn, New York, 
and Joliet, Illinois, with a few less, being second and 
third. Nevada can scarcely boast of 100, while the 
average of Oregon is but little more. 

The prison managers of 1877 complain that Chi- 
nese cheap labor is ruining the penitentiary ! The 
law permits convicts to be hired out at the rate of 
fifty cents a day. At twenty-five cents a day con- 
tractors could employ them, but not at more than 
this, as otherwise Chinese labor is preferable. There 
is a state prison at Folsom. More facilities are re- 
quired either at San Quentin, Folsom, or elsewhere. 

The prison tract at San Quentin comprises 130 
acres. The situation is extremely favorable ; the 
soil first recommended it, being good clay for bricks. 
The prison itself covers a square of six acres, enclosed 
by a wall now twenty-five feet high. Outside are a 
number of buildings for offices, stables, and outhouses, 
with a few garden patches. The warden's villa lies 
on an elevation near by. Inside the wall are three cell 
buildings of several stories, parallel to one another, 
and twenty feet apart. Two are of brick 124 by 23 
feet, and erected in 1864 at a cost of $60,000 each. 
There was $200,000 appropriated by the legislature 
of 1876 for new buildings, and a four-story brick 
structure 50 by 400 feet was the result. 

With the exception of the lower story of the store 
huilding, which is divided into seven large rooms, 


with rows of bunks, the rest of the floors are pa.rti- 
tioned into double hues of cells, chiefly nine feet long 
by four wide, and eight high, opening on a central 
passage. The cells contain one to two bunks, a straw 
tick, two pairs of blankets and a bucket. Many are, 
besides, neatly furnished with tables, stools, toilet ar- 
ticles, and ornaments made or bought by the inmate. 

The block also contains workshops of several sto- 
ries, one costing $130,000, and a number of offices; the 
whole having rather a patchy appearance owing to 
the irregular additions made at various times. In 
the centre is an open space cultivated as a flower gar- 
den, with a hewn stone fountain — an oasis in the 

A number of guards are on the watch against re- 
volt ; sentinels patrol upon the walls ; and the frown- 
ing muzzles of primed guns appear in different direc- 
tions. Upon the two parallel hills which enclose the 
narrow tract there are, besides, several stations or 
guard houses with grape-charged cannon. There are 
also situated the prison reservoirs, one of 250,000 
gallons. A large brick yard borders on the bay. 

Convicts are brought hither by country sherifls; 
and to judge by the mileage allowed, the task must 
be rather attractive to the more distant officials. The 
new arrival is conducted to the turnkey's office to be 
measured, and to undergo a physical and moral ex- 
amination for fitness, for place, and identification in 
case of escape; whereupon he receives the striped 
uniform, and his hair is clipped very short. 

A second and less ao^reeable initiation awaits him 
at the hands of the old residents, consisting of 
blanket-tossing, rail-riding, and other persecutions 
and indignities, regulated according to his tempera- 
ment. Those who take the fun in good humor are 
soon released and become favorites. But woe to him 
who shows obstinacy or cowardice ; his sufferings are 
aggravated and prolonged in proportion ; complaints 
will not save him. 


The life of prisoners is not so severe as might be 
expected. The bell rouses them at five to seven a. m., 
according to the season, and ten minutes later the 
cells are opened by the turnkey, permitting the men 
to roam in the yard for half an hour. Fifteen min- 
utes are allowed for breakfast, and then on to work- 
shops, brickyard, or offices. 

The signal for dinner is given at half past 11 o'clock. 
Those who possess tea or coffee are given facilities to 
prepare the beverage, and at a sign the men fall into 
line for the dining-room, where two rows of tables 
groan under the abundant rations of meat and bread, 
with soup ad libitum. The turnkey overlooks the 
hungry army from behind an elevated desk, and gives 
the order to be seated. All are now on the qui vive 
for the next signal, to begin eating, which is obeyed 
with a will. Silence prevails, broken only by the oc- 
casional clatter of spoons, with which the more par- 
ticular have provided themselves, for the dangerous 
knives and forks have been replaced by the more nat- 
ural implements of the paradise era. A last rap 
closes the banquet, and the convicts march out with 
abated eagerness, removing the glossy evidence of the 
tooth and nail combat by a complacent wrist 

The supper call is at half-past four, after which all 
are locked in. Those who have lamps or candles may 
read, play, or work, till nine, when lights are extin- 
guished, except on the lower story, where they burn 
all night to reveal any attempts at boring the wall. 

The work was largely in the hands of contractors, 
manufacturers of furniture, saddles, shoes, clothing, 
cigars, barrels, bricks, etc., each of whom employed 
from 25 to 200 men. The prison provides all the 
needed shops, power, and guard. The custom of 
sending gangs to work outside the prison has been 
much restricted. 

Task work is most common, and on completing his 
share the convict may while away the time, or, by 


extra work, earn money wherewith to purchase better 
food, and articles of luxury, even daily papers. Many 
save considerable sums. 

The upper floor of one of the buildings forms the 
chapel, where sabbath service is conducted by clergy- 
men volunteers to audiences of 300 to 500 men, who 
eagerly welcome an}^ change in the monotony of their 
routine. Among the attractions are a fair choir, and an 
organ purchased by contributions from the prisoners. 

After service a few of the talented convicts instruct 
some 250 companions in rudimentary branches, an 
educational process which is fostered by a library of 
several thousand well-thumbed volumes, and by the 
fees of visitors. Literary entertainments are arranged 
among them, and, at times, lectures are delivered by 

This is not a very repulsive picture of a prison, 
somewhat different from the Labyrinth of Cnosus with 
its monster and starvation, or the dreary eryastula, 
and the Jullianum with its deadly fumes, or the loath- 
some dungeons of the middle ages. Yet the ancients 
regarded prisons merely as places of detention, and, 
although Plato advocated penal and penitentiary es- 
tablishments, the second phase developed very slowly, 
and was accepted in France only after the revolution. 
The more recent knowledge of the necessity to coun- 
teract the tending of prisons to become schools for 
crime, and the introduction of reformatory systems, 
must be traced to the noble eflbrts of Howard, and 
the humane crusades of Fry, while the idea of making 
prisons self-supporting finds its origin in the political 
economy problems of our era. 

California has not yet had time or means to develop 
a very perfect system. The one great evil is promis- 
cuous intercourse, whereby the young and less corrupt 
are exposed to the contagious influence of the har- 
dened criminal, and the w^ant of an efficient check on 
gambling and other vices, as may be learned from the 
reports of the committees. 


Good conduct is promoted by a credit of five days 
in the month to every prisoner, with an increase of 
one day every two years, till the allowance reaches 
ten days. This is deducted from his term of ser- 
vitude. Pardons are also held out besides other 

Punishment has become more humane, and consists 
mainly in reducing privileges and good -conduct time. 
Desperate characters wear chahi and ball, and are 
prohibited from holding intercourse. The lash which 
was once applied for all offences, and periodically to 
captured fugitives, has almost fallen into disuse, and 
so has the dark dungeon, although both remain to 
inspire a salutary terror. Flogging was also admin- 
istered with a long paddle- formed board, with perfora- 
tions, through which the flesh was forced by every 
blow. Even more feared than this was the torture by 
water, which consisted of a jet played upon the 
mouth and nose of the victim. So severe was this 
punishment that if the same jet were let fall upon 
the stomach it would cause death. 

The numerous attempts at escape form interesting 
episodes of prison history. The thought of liberty 
here swallows all other thought, and life itself appears 
the inferior gift of heaven, as Dryden puts it. The 
great leisure enjoyed allows the mind ample time to 
fondle the alluring hope ; to dwell upon the many 
records of fellow-prisoners who have with varying 
success scaled the walls, filed bars, undermined cells, 
assumed disguises, or otherwise hoodwinked the 
guard; and to evolve plans worthy of a Dsedalus, 
attended by equally daring exploits. 

The most famous stampede was that of July 22, 
1862, when a general outbreak took place, owing 
immediately, it was claimed, to the starvation regime 
of Commissary Jones. 

Nothing occurs to arouse suspicion although the 
plot must be widely known. The dinner hour has passed 


and a gang of over 100 convicts is marching through 
the gate in the rear of the prison, when suddenly some 
fifteen separate from the rest and rush for the front 
gate, securing the guard. Lieutenant-governor Cheh 
lis notices the movement from his office, and hastens 
for safety to the adjoining bedroom, but the door is 
broken in, and he is brought forth to give orders to 
the gate-keeper to surrender the keys. The order is 
given but the keeper bravely refuses to comply, as- 
serting that they are not in his possession, but the 
convicts are not to be deceived ; a struggle ensues ; 
the keys are snatched fr'>m him and the gates thrown 
open amidst shouts of liberty. The cry is echoed by 
the crowd, amidst a general rush to join the leaders 
regardless of the volleys from the guards. The men 
from the workshops bring their axes, files, and other 
tools, while others storm the armory, overlooking a 
case of sabres in their hurry, and obtaimng only one 
loaded revolver, besides uncharged pistols and some 
other arms. 

Two to three hundred convicts have now passed 
the gate bearing the governor of the prison with 
them, but of these fifty are quickly secured by the 
captain of the guard, while the rest proceed in a body 
along the wall to station 5 on the hill. The guard 
stands ready to sweep their column with grape- 
shot; but the convicts are prepared; the captured 
governor is placed at the front to serve as shield, with 
a loaded pistol at his head to remind him of the func- 
tion. "For God's sake don't shoot l" exclaims the 
victim with uplifted hands. There is no time for hes- 
itation ; the guard turns the gun, discharges it into 
the water, and spikes it. This is more than they had 
expected, for the gun had been counted upon to silence 
the next one upon the adjoining hill. In their exas- 
peration they reproduce the Tarpeian tragedy, and 
gun with carriage follow the guard in his whirling de- 

Their path now lies across the brickyard to station 


10. Several volleys flash against them from the guns, 
but pass over their heads, so directed, no doubt, out 
of regard for the governor. The guard in pursuit are 
almost equally discriminating. 

In this way the main body advances along the Corte 
de Madera road, toward Mount Tamalpais, plundering^ 
the houses in their way of everything portable, although 
not without expressing regrets at the unavoidable ne- 
cessity. Indeed, they are polite enough to leave the 
governor his watch, remarking that it would be too 
mean to commit detailed robbery after stealing his 
whole person. Their patience, however, is sorely tried 
by his corpulency, which is becoming an obstacle to 
progress, despite the frequent reminders applied to 
his body in the form of knife-prods. A wild, bare- 
backed pony is produced to accelerate his motion, but 
either the weight or earnest entreaties of the governor 
save him from the dreaded ride. 

At four p. M. a slough is reached, and the panting 
hostage is compelled with the rest to wade chin-deep 
in the miry water. On gaining the high fence beyond, 
his slimy corpulency is found too heavy to be hoisted 
over, and is released. This act is suicidal, for the 
guards are no longer restrained by his presence, and 
resume firing with telling effect. 

By this time the news of the outbreak has spread 
far and wide, and aware of the danger to life and prop- 
erty, every able-bodied man in the San Rafael district 
who can lay his hands upon a weapon and a horse 
musters for the chase. About 200 well-equipped men 
close in upon the gang. Being comparatively unarmed 
the convicts find resistance useless, and the affair be- 
comes a game of hide and seek. By twilight nearly 
the whole number is secured, and at eight p. m. the 
prison gate closes behind them. 

Meanwhile a side-play has been performed on the 
bay. A party of a dozen fugitives or so, whose diluted 
Viking blood still tingles to the harp of Necken, have 
boarded the prison sloop Pike County. The hawsers 


are cut amid a whiz of bullets ; the distance from the 
wharf is rapidly increasing, and so are their aspira- 
tions ; but, alas ! one thing has been left out of account ; 
the non-consulted mistletoe proves in this instance to 
be a treacherous mud-bank, and hope, their Baldur, 

The first roll-call showed over thirty missing but 
this number was reduced to less than a dozen by sub- 
sequent captures. Ten were killed and thirty wounded. 

On receiving the first exaggerated accounts, the 
chief of police at San Francisco obtained full powers 
from the governor. He engaged a steamer, and 
arrived on the spot at five o'clock the following morn- 
ing, with a body of armed citizens, but nothing re- 
mained to be done. The Sacramento Rangers were 
also turned out for the pursuit. A reward of fifty 
dollars was offered for each fugitive. 

On Saturday April 2, 1864, a determined attempt 
at flight was made by a gang composed chiefly of 
Mexicans, under the leadership of Tom King. One 
party, engaged in unloading, broke from the work 
during the afternoon, and began to scale the wall. 
The guard fired, but twenty -three succeeded in gain- 
mg the brick-yard, where another party joined them. 
The fugitives armed themselves with stones and 
bricks, and attacked station 4, evidently with a view 
to capture the gun and turn it to account. The 
four guards at this point found that the guns would 
not work, spiked it, and rushed for the guard-house ; 
but only two reached it, for the next moment the 
convicts had possession of the place, and sent the 
other two whirling over the embankment. The ad- 
vantage was momentary onl}^ ; the gun on the other 
side opened fire, and the guard came charging on 
horse and foot. In twenty minutes the captors 
of the battery surrendered and were conducted to 
their cells, with a loss of five killed and a number of 

Many ingenious individual attempts have been 


made at various times to escape, notable among them 
being that of E. A. Strickland from San Mateo, who 
after three months devoted labor upon his lock, and 
having in readiness a scaling-hook and rope, stepped 
from his cell only to encounter the six-shooter of the 
officer who for several days had been watching him. 
Ten days in the dungeon and a severe whipping was 
the penalty for this attempt. 

The prison commission of Nevada took possession 
of the six-eel] jail with tw^enty acres of land, and a 
fine inexhaustible quarry near Carson, purchased for 
$80,000 on the 1st of March, 1864. The same year 
another building with thirty-two cells was constructed 
by the convicts at an outlay of only $4,000 besides 
their labor ; and several other structures rose during 
the following years. 

Still more exciting than the escapes at San Quentin 
was that which took place at the Nevada state prison, 
Carson, on Sunday September 17, 1871. A well 
arranged plan had been formed with the aid, it was 
rumored, of several outside and powerful coadjutors. 

The projector was a young horse-thief named 
Clifford, who, in conjunction with a numerous staff, 
had for some time been gathering information of 
routine and buildings to guide the operations, and had 
collected all available scraDS of iron and other material 
for tools and slung- shot" 

It was the custom to allow prisoners the use of the 
western-cell room on Sundays, free from direct super- 
vision, and of this they had availed themselves on 
two preceding Sabbaths to cut through the ceiling 
into the loft, and thence through the wall into the 
adjoining building on the east. A signal had been 
agreed upon, and shortly before six o'clock, when the 
cells were to be locked for the night, the plotters had 
nearly all crept through the opening, and had taken 
up positions in the adjoining loft, sixty feet distant, 
over the room of the deputy warden, while a few de- 
termined fellows waited below for the captain of the 


guard. Soon the jingle of keys called to action; and 
as the captain and his attendant entered they were 
stunned, one with a slungshot, the other with a bottle. 
Several more pounced in to deal the coup de gr4ce, 
but merciful sentiments prevailing, they were thrown 
into a cell and locked up. The next moment the* 
convicts were climbing the cell tiers, for the hole, to 
join their companions who had already broken through 
the ceiling in the east building and were tumbling 
down upon the deputy warden. This startled func- 
tionary was awed into submission, but soon made his 
escape to securer quarters. The noise had caused 
no less consternation on the lower story, where Lieu- 
tenant-governor Denver was entertaining a party of 
ladies at dinner. Seizing a pistol he rushed out to 
meet the crowd as it came pouring down the stairs, 
led by Clifford. The first shot almost crippled the 
leader, but the mass pressed onward, overpowering 
him, and making him the target of his own pistol. 
At this critical moment, Dead man, a life convict, who 
acted as servant to the officers, and had followed his 
master faithfully, seized a chair, and whirling it with 
savage fury stretched several convicts on the floor and 
pitched one over the balustrade. This act diverted 
attention and saved the life of the wounded governor ; 
but his heroic champion had also to succumb to num- 
bers, and fell senseless after demolishing another chair 
upon the assailants. Meanwhile the bleeding Clifford 
led on to the armory, wrenching open the lock with 
suspicious ease, and soon the firing announced that 
arms had been secured. 

Believing the prisoners safe under lock and key, the 
guard had abandoned itself to the leisure of the Sab- 
bath, leaving no sentinel on the wall. As the prison- 
ers entered the guard-house, there were none to 
confront them except the guard Isaacs, who fearlessly 
took his stand in the yard with a six-shooter, firing in 
through the windows and receiving the return fire 
without flinching. His right knee being shattered by 


a bullet, he coolly leant over upon the left leg, and 
continued to fire until a shot in the hip brought hiin 
down, fatally wounded. Struck with admiration at 
his courage, the prisoners refrained from doing him 
further harm, and merely secured his pistol. The 
resolute stand of the guard had caused many irreso- 
lute convicts to return to the shelter of their cells, and 
soon a reenforcement of three guards and two citi- 
zens came up. Two of the guards were speedily 
placed hors de combat, while a citizen, whose rash- 
ness led him too near the windows of the guard-house, 
received a bullet in the head from which he did not 

During the confusion Denver's little daughter found 
her way into the yard, and ran heedlessly into the 
range of the fire, as if to shield the brave Isaacs. A 
French prisoner, employed in the guard-room, rushed 
forward on seeing the danger of the little one, and 
bore her off, leaving the terrified mother in an 
agony of doubt whether her child had not escaped 
one danger only to encounter another. A young 
woman had also noticed the child, and impelled by 
feminine devotion, she had followed, only to flutter in 
bewilderment over the blood-stained ground before 
the windows with the belching guns. Once more the 
gallantry of La Grande Nation was displayed as the 
Frenchman dashed to the rescue. Of the reenforce- 
ment one citizen alone remained unscathed. 

A man with a buggy who happened to be at the 
prison when the firing began, hurried to town to give 
the alarm ; but before the sheriff and his dozen f jllow- 
ers arrived, twenty -nine of the most desperate con- 
victs had escaped, some badly wounded, leaving 
behind forty -three comrades who had been restrained 
by force and fear, or whose term was nearly expired. 
A large force of citizens also appeared equipped from 
the state armory, followed by two militia companies 
from Virginia city, who were already in pursuit in 
different directions before midnight. 


Guided by a big negro the majority of the fugitives 
sought the mountain range to the east, but shortly 
after, small parties were reported at various points, 
demanding food and clothes, or obliging some black- 
smith to remove their irons. Some appeared at an Ind- 
ian camp, where two assumed the dress of the warriors, 
and a third donned the habiliments of a female 
aboriginal. The commiseration of a ranchero was ex- 
cited by meeting a man devoid of all clothing save 
his drawers, shiveriag before the piercing wind which 
swept the valley during the night. A party of six 
came upon a German charcoal burner, and tying him 
to a tree they made off with his four horses. In this 
position he was found six hours later by pursuing citi- 
zens, muttering vengeance loud and deep. 

Despite the pressure of hunger and weakness from 
long confinement the convicts baffled their pursuers 
for a long time, while reports of robberies and murders 
poured in from all directions. After a reprehensible 
delay of eight days a reward was offered of $200 or 
$300 per head. This proved an incentive, and sev- 
eral captures were made, although not without desper- 
ate encounters wherein three citizens lost their lives. 
In one place three ranchmen followed four armed con- 
victs, and watching their opportunity they covered 
them with rifles. The prisoners offered the tempting 
bribe of $2,500, to be released, assuring the captors 
that a secret message to a certain person would be re- 
sponded to by a masked man, who should pay the 
money. Although tempted to secure this accomplice, 
and perhaps the money, the captors preferred the 
surer reward of $900. The story was commented 
upon as indicating powerful coadjutors, and the inac- 
tion of the deputy warden during the melee was se- 
verely criticised. 

At 3 o'clock p. M. the 28th of October, 1877, an- 
other break occurred in the Nevada state prison 
which narrowly escaped being a serious aftair. A 
deputy warden, Matthewson, on entering the shoe- 


shop was seized by six convicts and borne to the 

'' Liberty or death," they cried. ** You die, but we 
will be free." 

'' You had better be quiet," said Matthewson, 
^'You will be shot." 

Meanwhile Gonard, a captain of the guard, had 
been seized by three prisoners, who told him if he 
would go quietly with them he should not be hurt. 
Gonard likewise expostulated, telling them such ac- 
tion would bring upon them certain death. The 
prison-breakers all belonged to the shoe-shop, and 
were armed with knives, by one of which the keeper 
was cut in the groin. 

Both parties now endeavored to reach the gate ; but 
the alarm was given and the guard stood firm. The ring- 
leaders were fired upon, and several of them fell, one 
Johnson fatally wounded. Mathena, who was badly 
injured, when captured cried, **I am lost! My 
last chance is gone I " and endeavored to kill himself. 

In Oregon the first convicts were hired out to re- 
sponsible persons for support and safe-keeping; but it 
soon became apparent that a penitentiary was needed, 
and during the legislative session of 1851 three com- 
missioners were appointed to superintend the erection 
of a building. Nothing was done, however, before 
the meeting of the legislature of 1852-S, when an-, 
other trio was appointed which set to work with a 
will, and in 1856 an $85,000 building stood ready. 

The leasing system was resumed between 1859 and 
1862 after which the governor became ex-officio su- 
perintendent. Since 1864 every governor has ap- 
pointed a superintendent. In 1866 the state prison 
was fixed at Salem, the present site, and a wooden 
jail erected at a cost of $38,000. In 1870, $50,000 
was granted for a more substantial brick edifice of 
two stories, with basement, and two wings each 160 
feet in length. The wooden prison formed one of the 


workshops, devoted to carpentry, tannery, worked 
with the aid of water power. In 1874, 150 acres of 
garden and farm land were already under cultivation, 
and this, together with the brick-making department, 
helped considerably to sustain the establishment, so 
much so, that the earnings of the two years 1873-4 
amounted to $65,260 and $65,269, while the expenses 
were but $78,047 ; but the average number of pris- 
oners for the two years was a little over 100 with not 
a single female. 

The merit-book system worked well. When a pris- 
oner had earned not less than four marks, and not 
over six, during the six months, he received a credit 
of one day for each mark. When such credit-marks 
were earned during the succeeding semesters, he re- 
ceived an additional day for each, until five days had 
been gained for each mark. This time was deducted 
from the sentence, while the allowance was lost by 
breaking rules or attempting to escape. At the ex- 
piration of his term he received fifty cents for each 
credit mark, less loss of tools, loss of material, and 

In 1861 the Oregon state penitentiary received the 
convicts from Washington at $8 75 a week, the lessees 
having liberty to work them at times. In 1871 the 
Washington convicts were kept at Steilacoom jail, 
pending the futile attempts to obtain an appropriation 
for a territorial penitentiary upon the twenty-seven 
acres donated on McNeill island opposite Steilacoom. 
By act of February 22d, 1873, congress made an ap- 
propriation, and in November a wing with forty- two 
cells was completed at a cost of $37,800. In 1866, 
the Boise county jail served as territorial prison for 
the eleven convicts of Idaho. Miners would not em- 
ploy them, and no work could be procured wherewith 
to make them contribute to the cost of maintenance. 

Deer Lodge City, as the pretty little village situ- 
ated in the valley of that name is called, is the site 
of the Montana penitentiary. The Deer Lodge river 


is the principal tributary, or rather, the upper part of 
the Clark fork of the Columbia, which name it takes 
some 2,000 miles northwest from its source, after hav- 
ing received as tributaries the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, 
and Flathead rivers, and numerous smaller streams. 

The sum of $50,000 was appropriated by congress, 
in 1869, to build a prison at some place to be desig- 
nated by the legislative assembly of Montana. Deer 
Lodge was the point chosen. Twelve acres of the 
public domain were marked off as the site, and the 
erection of a building was by law placed in charge of 
the United States marshal, William F. Wheeler, to 
whom I am indebted for these facts. 

The building was completed and accepted in the 
summer of 1871, the appropriation barely covering 
the cost of the stone walls, roof, floor, and fourteen 
brick cells, six by eight feet in size, and grating for 
the lower windows only. The building was eighty 
by forty feet; its walls were two feet thick, and 
twent3^-two feet high. A mansard roof afforded room 
for a third tier of cells. The building has since been 
completed and furnished. A high board fence was 
also constructed, enclosing a space 300 feet square for 
a prison yard. The marshal still retained control of 
the building, and on the 2d of July, 1871, opened it 
for the reception of territorial and United States 
convicts. Twelve criminals were at that time re- 

Then, and subsequently, besides furniture and fix- 
tures of every kind furnished, the United States paid 
all prison expenses, the salaries of officers, superintend- 
ent, guards, and physician, who were supplied with 
rooms and subsistence, the clothing and food of pris- 
oners, fuel and lights, and the territory of Montana 
paid the general government one dollar a day for the 
keeping of each of its convicts. 

Becoming impatient of govermental leading-strings 
the territory asked and obtained control from the 15th 
of May, 1873; to the 1st of August, 1874; by which 



time, concluding they did not know how to keep a 
prison, the legislature begged their guardian at Wash- 
ington to take back his pretty present, as they found 
it somewhat expensive. They had not guests enough 
to make it profitable. 

At first the cost to the United States of each pris- 
oner, per diem, was $1 86, while the territory paid 
$2 03. Back under the management of Marshal 
Wheeler again, and the 1st of August, 1874, for the 
first year the cost was $1 66 a day for each prisoner, 
for the second year $1 45, and for the third year 
$1 36. 

"The greatest misfortune to the prisoners," writes 
Marshal Wheeler to me the 23d of October, 1877, 
*'is that they have no regular employment. The 
town being so small it does not fin^d it profitable to 
hire prison labor, because the prisoners cannot go 
outside of the prison-yard, and there is no manufac- 
turing done in the town. All work on the improve- 
ments done about the prison has been done by the 
prisoners, and only the material paid for by the gov- 
ernment. The prisoners make all their own clothes, 
cook, saw wood, and do all that is done for the prison 
and themselves. They have a great deal of spare 
time, and would be glad to be employed. We have 
but few books, but get gratis many newspapers and 
magazines, which are eagerly read by the prisoners. 
All of them have improved in reading, writing, and 
the common branches." 

For cleanliness, order, and health, the Montana 
prison, though small, was a model. Religious ser- 
vices were held on such Sundays as preaching could 
be secured. No severer punishment was administered 
than locking an offender in his cell, feeding him on 
bread and water, or if very refractory placing him in 
irons. During the first six years, out of eighty -three 
prisoners there were four escapes, and one recapture, 
leaving in fact three. 

The United States marshal was ex-officio superin- 

Cal. Int. Poc. 28 


tendent, with a salary of $1,200 a year, and having 
for his assistants four guards of his own appointing 
and removing, one of whom was called deputy super- 
intendent, and acted as chief in the absence of the 
marshal. The salaries of the assistants were $1,000 
a year each ; the physician was paid by fees. All 
expenses were paid monthly on vouchers mailed to 
the attorney -general with an explanatory letter. 

Alaska has had few prison facilities to speak of. 
Under the Russian regime, malefactors were confined 
at the forts. For a time after American occupation 
the only civil rule was the local municipal govern- 
ment of Sitka, and that was maintained without 
authority of law. 

Under an act of congress in 1853, A. W. Babbitt, 
then secretary of the territory, was authorized to 
expend $20,000 in building a penitentiary for Utah. 
The building was placed in what was then known as 
the Big Field Survey, made under the provisional 
laws of the state of Deseret. The building was com- 
pleted in 1854; Daniel Caru was elected warden, and 
Wilford Woodruff, Albert P. Rockwood, and Samuel 
B. Richards inspectors. 

There was in prison an average of nine prisoners 
for some time, many coming and going, and but few 
serving out their term. These new villains cost the 
new territory about five thousand dollars a year. They 
could have been hanged immediately after conviction 
for less money. As the years went by, and the gen- 
eral government failing in its appropriations, the build- 
ings became somewhat dilapidated, and there were 
several escapes. 

Prior to July, 1875, Arizona had no prison. The 
judge in sentencing criminals named some county jail 
as their place of confinement, and of such prisoners 
the sheriffs of the respective counties had charge. 
No state convict up to this time had ever served his 
full term, but always escaped. In 1875 the legisla- 
ture passed a law locating the prison at Yuma, and 


appropriating $25,000 for building purposes. Con- 
victs were kept in the Yuma jail up to July 1876, 
when they were removed to the prison then ready. 
There were then seven only, and during the next six 
months three more were added, making ten prisoners 
in the Arizona penitentiary on the 1st of January 



Believe me, it is not necessary to a man's respectability that he shonld 
commit a murder. Many a man has passed through life most respectably, 
without j^ttempting any species of homicide. A man came to me as the can- 
didate for the place of my servant, just then vacant. He had the reputation 
of having dabbled a little in our art, some said, not without merit. What 
startled me, however, was, that he supposed this art to be part of the regular 
duties in my service. Now that was a thing I would not allow. So I said 
at once, * if once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to 
think little of robbing'; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and 
Sabbath -breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once be- 
gin upon this downward path you never know where you are to stop. Many 
a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought 
little of at the time. j 

— De Quincey. ' 

The natives of California were quick to learn the 
purchasing power of gold, but they did not thereby 
become greedy of it like their white brethren. When 
they wanted a sack of flour, or a few pounds of to- 
bacco, or a bottle of brandy, some of them went to 
the river and washed out the gold necessary for their 
purchases. They were badly cheated at first, having 
no knowledge of the value white men put upon the 
metal, and they would as readily give a handful of it 
as a smaller quantity, if they had it, for whatever 
struck their fancy, something to eat, or to drink, a 
gaudy handkerchief, or a garment. 

Time and intercourse with the more cunning race 
sharpened their wits a little. Then they adopted a 
method of their own in making purchases. In parties 
of ^NQ or ten they would first stroll through the store, 
carefully observe several articles, and settle in their 
own mind what they would buy, but saying nothing 
to the shop-keeper. Then they would retire to a little 



distance, and seating themselves in a circle on the 
ground gravely discuss matters. One after another 
they then went to the store and made their purchases, 
returning afterward to their place in the circle. And 
their method of barter was frequently in this w^se: 
Upon a leaf, or piece of paper, one would pour out 
perhaps a teaspoon ful of gold-dust, and taking it to 
the shopkeeper, point to the article desired and ejacu- 
late, ugh! which being interpreted meant, ''I will 
give you this for that." If the shopkeeper took it, 
well ; if he refused it the Indian would withdraw, in- 
crease the pile of dust, and return, repeating the op- 
eration until the amount was large enough to procure 
the article. Again, if it was biscuits they desired, of 
which a teaspoonful of dust in the days of '48, would 
buy but half a dozen, and they wanted several dozen, 
they would go and come, never at any one time bring- 
ing more than the first measure of dust, receiving six 
each time until they had secured all they required, or 
until their dust was gone. 

The Mexican scrape was quite becoming to the 
California root digger, and took his fancy wonderfully. 
In the absence of a scrape, however, an American 
blanket w^ould do, and for this, of a quality worth $4 
or $5, they cheerfully paid Weber, the Coloma 
shopkeeper, $100. Before the end of 1848 thousands 
of savages, who up to that had lived on roots and 
acorns, and had paraded the forests as naked as Adam 
in the garden, were arrayed in gorgeous apparel cost- 
ing $500, conspicuous in which was gaudy calico, red 
handkerchiefs, hat, shirt, pantaloons, and blanket or 
scrape. For food, in place of acorns and mashed grass- 
hoppers, they purchased almonds and raisins at $16 a 
pound; and for a bottle of whiskey they paid $16. 

While the Keverend Mr Colton was playing miner 
on the Stanislaus, in the autumn of 1848, there came 
to his camp three wild men, attracted thither by a 
red belt which each of them wanted ; so they first 
bought it and then gambled to see which should have 


it. *'They could speak only their native dialect," said 
Colton, "not a word of which I could understand. 
We had to make ourselves intelligible by signs. They 
wanted to purchase the belt, and each laid down a 
piece of gold, which were worth in the aggregate some 
$200. I took one of the pieces and gave the Indian 
to whom it belonged the belt. They made signs for 
a piece of coin. I offered them an eagle but it was 
not what they wanted ; a Spanish mill dollar, but they 
wanted something smaller; a fifty-cent piece, and 
they signified it would do. Taking the coin they 
fastened it in the end of a stick so as to expose nearly 
the entire circle, and set it up about forty yards dis- 
tant. Then they cast lots, by a bone which they 
threw into the air, for the order in which they should . 
discharge their arrows. The one who had the first 
shot drew his long, sinewy bow and missed ; the sec- 
ond, he missed ; the third, and he missed, though the 
arrow of each flew so near the coin that it would have 
killed a deer at that distance. The second now shot 
first and grazed the coin; then the third, who broke 
his string and shot with the bow of the second, but 
missed. And now the first took his turn and struck 
the coin, whirling it off at a great distance. The 
other two gave him the belt which he tied around his 
head instead of a blanket, and away they stai*ted over 
the hills full of wild life and glee, leaving the coin as 
a thing of no importance in the bushes where it had 
been whirled." 

To the discharged volunteer, Henry I. Simpson, 
who was there in August 1848, the natives at work 
near Mormon island appeared exceedingly singular, 
They '' were dressed in strange fantastic guise ; in- 
stead of the breech clout, which used to be their ch ief 
article of the toilet, gaudy calicoes, bright colored 
handkerchiefs, and strips of red cloth were showily 
exhibited about their persons. The first party with 
whom we came up, consisted of an old Indian with 
his squaw, and a youth about fifteen ; they seemed to 


be working on their own account, though most of the 
Indians work by the day for some employer, who 
furnishes them with food, and pays a regular per diem 
— sometimes as much as twenty dollars a day, but 
more generally at the rate of an ounce and a half of 
gold, the current rate of which is from ten to twelve 
dollars per ounce. When we came within sight of this 
party, they were in a short, deep ravine, very busily 
employed digging with small machetes^ or Spanish 
knives ; and as soon as they perceived us, they looked 
with some vexation of manner, as though they feared 
we were coming to interfere with their rights of dis- 
covery. I may here remark that a nice regard is al- 
most always had for such rights. A party finding a 
good bed of gold, is seldom or never interfered with 
by others — at least the immediate vicinity of their 
operations is not trespassed upon. As an evidence of 
this feeling of natural justice, I learned tliat there 
was, at the mill of Captain Sutter, a fine bank of de- 
posit which had not been touched, out of respect to 
the rights of the captain, who, of course, had no real 
ownership in the matter. The Indians soon became 
satisfied that we had no intention of trespassing, and 
began their work again, the old fellow jabbering away 
in bad Spanish in reply to our inquiries. He had 
about his person, in an uncouth-looking buckskin 
pouch, from six to eight ounces of gold, as I should 
judge, which he exhibited with some exultation. 
While we were engaged with the old man, the boy, 
who had progressed some few yards ahead in his work, 
uttered a sudden, ugh ! which is the Indian expression 
of wonder. We all turned toward him, and saw him 
holding up, with an expression of irrepressible delight, 
a large lump of gold incrusted with earth and gravel, 
which seemed as big as a man's fist. The old fellow 
rushed toward him with quite an un-Indian-like eager- 
ness, and taking it from his hand, commenced rapidly 
cleaning it of the dirt and gravel, which he accom- 
plished with peculiar skill; and in less than a minute 


exhibited to us a lump of apparently pure gold, which 
I should judge weighed at least six or seven ounces. 
We all examined it closely and with open admiration. 
Whether it was a craving of avarice that seized my 
heart, or because I admired the specimen as one of 
the finest I had seen, I will not pretend to 
determine; but, as it was, I felt a strong de- 
sire to possess the piece. I suppose my feelings were 
legible in my countenance, for the old Indian looked 
knowingly into my eyes, and tlien, after a few words 
in his own language with his squaw, he took the gold 
in his hand and proffered it to me, taking hold, at the 
same time, of a bright scarlet sash which I wore 
around my waist, thus evidently offering a trade. My 
sash was a fine one, and though worth by no means 
the intrinsic value of the gold, would perhaps have 
sold for much more in that region, for the Indians 
had been known to gratify their fancies at much more 
exorbitant prices : it was not this, however, that 
made me hesitate, but rather that it seemed like spec- 
ulating upon the ignorance of the savage. ' Take it, 
Harry,' said Charley to me, ' I do not like to im- 
pose on the old fellow, Charley,' said I. *Pooh, 
some less scrupulous person will sell him a few yards 
of printed calico for it ; so it amounts to the same 
thinoj in the end.' Doubtless the Indian thougjht 
that our hesitation arose from a desire to enhance my 
demand for the sash, for he held a few minutes longer 
consultation with his squaw, and then commenced un- 
doing his pouch, as if he intended to offer an additional 
price. I shook my head, however, to indicate that 
he should stop, and undoing the sash I gave it in ex- 
change for the gold. Certainly vanity is a sweet 
morsel to the human heart ; even the habitual stoicism 
of the savage yields to its magic influence. No sooner 
had the old man obtained possession of the coveted 
treasure, than both his wife and son gathered around 
him, forgetting entirely their work in extravagant 
admiration of the gaudy plaything they had purchased 


BO far beyond its value. We left them to their en- 
joyment, and proceeded on." 

Says one who visited the Stanislaus in October 
1848 of some natives he saw at work in that vicinity: 
'' On the plain we fell in with the camp of Mr Mur- 
phy, who invited us into his tent, and set before us 
refreshments that would have graced a scene less wild 
than this. His tent is pitched in the midst of a 
small tribe of wild Indians who gather gold for him, 
and receive in return provisions and blankets. He 
knocks down two bullocks a day to furnish them with 
meat. Though never before within the wake of civi- 
lization, they respect his person and property. This, 
however, is to be ascribed in part to the fact that he 
has married the daughter of the chief — a young 
woman of many personal attractions, and full of that 
warm wild love which makes her the Haidee of the 
woods. She is the queen of the tribe, and walks 
among them with the air of one on whom authority 
sits as a native grace — a charm which all feel, and of 
which she seems the least conscious." 

In a melancholy strain, which, coming from him 
approaches the grotesque, Sutter thus describes his 
experiences in mining with the natives: "Even the 
Indians had no more patience to work alone, in har- 
vesting and threshing my large wheat crop out, as 
tlie white men had all left, and other Indians had 
been engaged by some white men to work for them, 
and they commenced to have some gold for which 
they were buying all kinds of articles at enormous 
prices in the stores; which when my Indians saw 
this, they wished very much to go to the mountains 
and dig gold. At last I consented, got a number of 
wagons ready, loaded them with provisions and goods 
of all kinds, employed a clerk, and left with about 
one hundred Indians, and about fifty Kanakas who 
had joined those I brought with me from the Islands. 
The first camp was about ten miles above Mormon 
Island, on the south fork of the American river. In 


a few weeks we became crowded, and it would no 
more pay, as my people made too many acquaintances. 
I broke up the camp and started on the march fur- 
ther south, and located my next camp on Sutter 
creek, and thought that I should there be alone. 
The work was going on well for awhile, until three 
or four travelling grog-shops surrounded me, at from 
one and a half to two miles distance from the camp ; 
than of course, the gold was taken to these places, 
for drinking, gambling, etc., and then the following 
day they were sick and unable to work, and became 
deeper and more indebted to me, and particularly the 
Kanakas. I found that it was high time to quit this 
kind of business, and lose no more time and money. 
I therefore broke up the camp and returned to the 
fort, where I disbanded nearly all the people who had 
worked for me in the mountains digging gold. This 
whole expedition proved to be a heavy loss to me." 

One Sunday in August 1850, in the town of Sonora, 
a psrson called Cave in conversation with a gambler 
named Mason, pointing to an Indian who was loung- 
ing about the street, offered to lay a wager that he 
could induce the native to rob or kill him. Mason 
accepted the offer. Cave then drew the native aside, 
told him that Mason had a large sum of money hidden ; 
told him w^here he should find it, and that if he would 
rob or kill Mason he should have half of it and no 
harm should befall him. Placing an unloaded pistol 
in his hand Cave urged him on to the consummation of 
the deed. Irresolute, bewildered, worked upon more 
by the exhortations of Cave than any desire to do 
wrong, the native hesitatingly entered Mason's house, 
looked around and came out without touching a thing. 
Mason was watching for him and as soon as he was 
fairly on the street again shot him dead. 

For specimens of Indian warfare we must go north. 
The natives of California valley were a mild race, 
and when the miners shot them down the survivors 



seldom retaliated. In the vicmit}^ of the Oregon 
border, however, on both sides of the line, it was 
quite different. The inhabitants were a bolder, braver . 
people, who would not tamely submit to every in- 

During the year 1852 there were several new min- 
ing fields discovered in northern California and south- 
ern Oregon, and the natives thereabout being high- 
spirited and strong, and the miners overbearing, it is 
no wonder there were many outrages on both sides. 

Conspicuous among the savages was a Shasta, called 
by the white men Scarface, and another named Bill, 
and Sullix the bad-tempered, who in cunning, treach- 
ery, and cruelty, were equal to any of the white men 
invading their domains — only the latter were the 
stronger. E. Steele, of Yreka, was a favorite of the 
Shastas, who named him Jo Lane's Brother. Among 
the Rogue river chiefs, some of whose people belonged 
to the Shasta nation, were Tolo and John, Sam and 
Jo ; then at the foot of the Siskiyou mountains, was 
Tipsey, or the Hairy, second to none in war and 

White men imposed upon the Shastas, and from 
time to time these chiefs had killed white men. 
Sometimes Steele played successfully the part of 
peacemaker ; oftcner there was fighting. 

On one occasion, while a surveying party was at 
work in his vicinity, Scarface said to them, ''You 
white men who are so good and so great, why do you 
come into our country and kill our men, ravish our 
women, and go around with a compass and chain cry- 
ing 'stick, stuck,' set up a few stakes and call the 
land your own when you have not paid a cent for it?" 

Cardwell, an old ^ Indian-fighter of that vicin- 
ity, tells many stories of this aboriginal. "This 
same old Sullix sat upon one of the sills^ of my 
mill," he says, "while I was at work boring and 
mortising on it, watching the road alive with men 
coming into the valley after the discovery of the 


Jacksonville mines, and lie remarked to me that it 
had never been the intention of the Indians to give 
up the country, but they had meant to lot a few 
whites settle here, and get as much property around 
them as they could, and then go to work to wipe 
them out; but ihey were discouraged by the unex- 
pected influx of people. He then consoled hhnself by 
telling me one of his adventures. Some time a<'^o, 
with two other Indians, he was on the Klamath 
river, and late one day they saw two white men slip- 
ping along and trying to avoid being seen. He and 
his companions watched them, and observing where 
they camped that night, stole up and murdered them 
both. He seemed to rejoice over the bloody deed. 
*But now,' said he, 'we have waited too long to 
carry out our design ; the wliites have overpowered 
us.' He would work himself into a great rage talk- 
ing of these things ; his eyes would fairly turn green. 
When he told me of the murder on the Klamath, I 
came near sfcrikhig him with my chisel ; and I then 
and there made up my mind that if an opportunity 
ever presented I would kill that Indian, I afterwards 
had the pleasure of shooting him, but it did not kill 
him. This was in the subsequent Indian troubles." 

Cardwell states further that a few days after he 
had selected his mill site at the present town of Ash- 
land, Tipsey's band had a quarrel with a Shasta band 
over on the Klamath, in which Tipsey was wounded 
in the chin, and two of his men were killed. The 
bloody arbitrament having proceeded thus far peaceful 
negotiations w^ere begun. The money value of the 
dead Shasta was about equivalent to Tipsey's chin. On 
the other side a Shasta chief was killed. ''They set- 
tled the matter," continues Cardwell, "by standing off 
the two chiefs, but several horses were demanded by 
Tipsey in payment for his two braves killed, with the 
understanding, however, that if Tipsey recovered, the 
horses w^ere to be paid back as indemnity for the death 
of the Shasta chief. Tipsey recovered, and the 


Sliastas came over, about one hundred strong, and de- 
manded the horses. Tipsey refused to deUver them up, 
and sent to Butte creek for help, determined to give 
the Shastas battle. The reenforcements swelled the 
number to about one hundred and fifty. The Shastas 
also received reenforcements, making the number on 
each side about the same. Their manner of going to 
battle was extremely diverting. The prairie where 
Mr Lindsay Applegate's farm is, was the battle-field. 
The Shastas were collected on one side of the prairie, 
and the Rogue Rivers opposite. Each built a large 
fire at the place where they were assembled. Ten, 
fifteen, or perhaps fifty would start out from one side 
and go scampering across to within sixty or eighty 
yards of the opposite party, when about the same 
number would start after them, chasing: them back, 
and shooting at them all the way to be chased over 
the fields in their turn. This kind of warfare lasted for 
three days, the contestants figliting about six hours a 
day. They then compromised the matter, reminding 
us in all this of the highly rational way France and 
Germany have of settling their quarrels. 

At no period in the history of savage warfare are 
found more brave deeds by heroic women than during 
the Indian troubles of 1855. 

Coming down tlie Rogue River valley, spreading 
devastation on every side, on the morning of Novem- 
ber 9tli, a large band of savages appeared before the 
house of Mr'Wagoner, who was absent on a mission 
of courtesy to Sailor diggings, leaving his wife and 
child there alone. 

As the Indians approached the house, and set fire 
to it, Mrs Wagoner knew that her fate was sealed, 
that there was no escape from death or dishonor. 
She was a beautiful woman, educated and refined. 
New York being her native state, and having been 
some time on the frontier, she spoke the local dialect 
fluently. But she made no attempt to use her pow- 
ers of persuasion at this juncture, knowing that such 


effort would be useless. The enemies of her race were 
at her door; they were savages, maddened by years 
of wrong and the shedding of much innocent blood. 
Their wives and daughters had been outraged and 
slain by the white men ; for a brief moment they 
might enjoy revenge. 

Barring the door, and refusing admittance to any, 
refusing even to parley, slie proceeded quietly to ar- 
range her beautiful hair, and dress herself with neat- 
ness and decorum, as if for an important occasion; 
then drawing to her the child, and f dding it to her 
heart in the last embrace this side of eternity, she 
seated herself in the middle of the room, took the 
child in her lap, pillowed its head upon her breast, 
and thus, while singing to it a lullaby, she met her 
doom. She heeded not the approaching flames; she 
heard not the savage yells; nor was she conscious of 
the glittering eyes that peered at her through the 
crevices of her cabin. Already in spirit she was far 
away from that horrible scene, safe with her child be- 
yond the skies. 

The leading events of the insurrectionary move- 
ment of the Modocs I have presented in my general 
history, but the subject is worthy of more extended 
treatment than I was able then to give it. I have, 
therefore, reserved sufficient space for fuller detail in 
this volume. 

To the early incomers the Modocs were a wild, un- 
known people, and scarcely ever seen. Indeed, 
Modoc is a Shasta word, signifying stranger, or hos- 
tile, and so was taken up and applied to these savages 
by white men hearing the Shastas speak of them. 

When Superintendent Huntington made the treaty 
of 1864 with the Klamaths and Modocs, that portion 
of the latter tribe which lived on the border of Cali- 
fornia, and acknowledged Keintpoos, — individually 
known in the settlements as Captain Jack — for their 
chief, he had no great difficulty in gaining the consent 


of this personage to the terms of the treaty. Yet 
even then, circumstances existed which would make 
the observance of the conditions of the treaty exceed- 
ingly irksome to Captain Jack, who had acquired 
that love of civilized as well as savage vices which 
unfitted him for encagement on a reservation. The 
bad character of the Shastas, Pit Rivers, Lower 
Klamaths, and other tribes occupying the country 
in the vicinity of the mines, was not altogether in 
consequence of their association with vicious white 
men ; such association, however, gave them every op- 
portunity to practice whatever vices they might have. 
They were so given to quarreling among themselves, 
that it was only when at war with others that har- 
mony reigned in the household. 

Some of these savages were always hovering about 
mining camps and were often employed as servants in 
town houses. They had a good understanding of the 
English language, and were not unaware of the civil 
war being carried on at the east, from which they 
were led to believe the white race, of whose numerical 
strength they had a feeble idea, was in a condition to 
be successfully attacked and possibly exterminated. 
This idea prevailed to a great extent among all the 
natives, from the Missouri to the Pacific. When 
Superintendent Steele of California, entered upon the 
duties of his office, in 18G3, he found the Klamaths 
and the Modocs, under their chiefs Lalake and Schon- 
cliin, preparing to make war upon the settlers of 
northern California and southern Oregon, having al- 
ready begun stealing cattle and plundering and killing 
white men travelling through their country. The 
operations of the 1st Oregon cavalry and the estab- 
lishment of Fort Klamath to prevent these outrages, 
are known to the readers of my history. These meas- 
ures, together with the killing of two of the most vi- 
cious of the Klamath sub-chiefs, resulted in bringing 
these Indians to a realization of the power of the white 
men, and the necessity of a treaty, 


Ill February 1864 these border Indians, who be- 
longed some to CaUfornia and some to Oregon, but 
who knew nothing of the 42d degree of latitude which 
formed the boundary betweon, and who were in the 
hcibit of visiting Yreka, the residence of Superintendent 
Steele, being led to fear that they would be punished 
by the Oregon troops for their misconduct, sought 
the advice of Steele who made with them a sort cf 
treaty of friendship and peace. This treaty was made 
solely with Steele, and witnessed by a justice of the 
peace, E. W. Potter, and the sheriffcf Siskiyou county, 
D. Kearn. It required of the Indians nothing but 
their promise to live in peace among each other and 
with the white men, to refrain from killing, and steal- 
ing from members of the several tribes, and from in- 
terrupting tlie travel of individuals of one tribe 
through the country of another. The penalty for 
breaking this promise was to be given up to the sol- 
diers for punishment. They were required to respect 
the lives and property of white men, negroes, and 
Chinamen, allowing them to pass through the country 
claimed by them without molestation, or being taxed 
for right of way, or robbed of their property or money, 
but they were permitted to charge a fair price for 
ferrying travellers across streams, or acting as guides 
if desired to do so. 

They agreed not to get drunk when they came to 
the settlements, nor to steal while on these visits, nor 
to rob the sluice-boxes of Chinamen, but promised to 
remain out of town at night in their own camps. 
They also promised not to sell tlieir own or the chil- 
dren of other Indians, or to sell their women to white 
men unless the purchasers would go before a justice 
and marry these women, nor to bring their arms into 
the settlements, except to be repaired. On the part 
of the white people it was agreed by Steele that they 
should be protected when they came to the settle- 
ments; but they were counselled to obtain passes 
from the officers at the forts, and the Modocs and 


Klamaths were informed that they were subject to 
the inspection, protection, and restraint of the officers 
at Fort Klamath. 

The motive which led the California superintendent 
to make a treaty with Indians whom, by his own con- 
fession, he knew did not belong to his district, might 
be questioned — indeed was questioned afcerward, with 
severity; but there was no reason to doubt that to 
his judgment he seemed to be doing what was best at 
the moment. But he was not unaware that a treaty 
with the Klamaths and Modocs had for a long time 
been in contemplation, and was likely to occur at any 
time, since congress had made an appropriation for 
that purpose, and the Klamaths had been fed at Fort 
Klamath during the winter ; and his long experience 
should have told him that savages are never able to 
comprehend, nor ever willing to consent to receive in- 
structions from two sources. 

It is easy to see how the treaty made with Steele 
in February, which permitted the Indians to visit the 
settlements, where, in spite of their promises, they 
found means to carry on their former nefarious trade 
in prostitution, should have affected the attitude of 
Captain Jack and band toward the treaty authorized 
by the government, and made with the Klamaths and 
Modocs in October following. This band of Modocs 
was composed in part of vicious renegades from other 
tribes, and had their home about Tule and Clear lakes, 
in what was known as the Lost River country, where 
formerly they used to lie in wait for parties of emi- 
grants whose road lay around the shores of the lake, 
and from which they now had an easy and short road 
into Yreka and the mining settlements. Admitting 
the attachment of aboriginals to particular localities, 
which would make them reluctant to remove from 
Lost River, Captain Jack could not willingly have 
resigned the advantages which the treaty with Steele 
gave him over that which Sconchin, the head chief 
of the Modocs, agreed to accept from Huntington; 

Cal. Int. Poc. 29 


and it very soon was understood tliat though Jack 
had signed the treaty with the other chiefs, he had 
no intention of keeping it. This probable repudiation 
of the treaty during the interval before it was known 
to be ratified by congress, and before the agency was 
v/ell established, was not, however, a subject of serious 

In the meantime they were not keeping their agree- 
ment either with Steele or the United States. In 
the autumn of 1867 two of them were apprehended 
by Agent Applegate, and placed in chains at Fort 
Klamath, for distributing ammunition to the hostile 
Snakes; and in the following year, having refused to 
come on the reservation, military aid was asked to 
compel them to remove. In 1869 the settlers of Sis- 
kiyou county petitioned General Crook to remove the 
Modocs to the reservation, as their presence in that 
district was detrimental to the interests of the people. 
In reply. Crook stated that the Modocs would have 
been removed before this, but for a report from the 
former commander at Fort Klamath that the Indian 
department did not supply sufficient food there, and 
that they would not submit to remain upon a reserva- 
tion where they were not fed, and could kill but little 
game. After some weeks, however, General Crook, 
on the demand of Superintendent Mea?ham, ordered 
the commanding officer at Fort Klamath, Lieutenant 
Goodale, if he believed the Indian department pre- 
pared to take charge of them in such a manner as to 
give no cause of complaint, to bring Jack and his 
band upon the reservation. 

Accordingly, in December, Meacham, accompanied 
by a detachment of troops from the fort, repaired to 
Stone Bridge, on Lost river, where he met Captain 
Jack and his band, and informed them of the purpose 
of the government to insist on his observance of the 
treaty. During the night following the council, Jack, 
with a few of the most desperate characters in his 
following, left the camp and fled to the lava beds. 


on the south side of Tule lake, leaving two sub-chiefs, 
George and Riddle, with the women and children, in 
the hands of the superintendent. Meacham did not, 
as Jack hoped, return at once to the reservation with 
these, but remained in camp, and sent messengers to 
him, after which diplomatic correspondence, lasting 
two or three days. Jack finally consented to go with 
the rest upon the reservation, saying, however, to 
George, that he did not intend to stay. 

Meacham established Jack's band at Modoc point 
on upper Klamath lake, where Sconchin also was tem- 
porarily located before removal to Camp Yainax, and 
where they were to all appearance contentedly settled. 
Ha gave them a supply of clothing and provisions, 
and on the 1st of January, 1870, turned over to the 
new agent at Klamath, O. C. Knapp, the business of 
seeing that Crook's fears concerning their comfortable 
subsistence were not realized. For, as if the Indians 
could not be wholly entrusted to the Indian depart^ 
ment, military officers were, in the autumn of 1869, 
substituted for the agents previously employed, not 
only at Klamath, but at each of the reservations in 
eastern Oregon, and on many of the reservations in 
California and elsewhere. 

As if to sustain the military character for superior 
humanity, and also perhaps to make a favorable im- 
pression upon Jack's band, while all the Indians re- 
ceived ample allowances these were particularly well 
supplied, receiving more in proportion than the Klam- 
aths, and being favored in other ways. But to these 
kind influences Jack was insensible. Early in the 
spring he left the reservation with all his people, about 
two hundred and fifty in number, and returned to Lost 
river to fish and to be within easy reach of Yreka. 
And it was evident that force would have to be used 
to compel this band to remain upon the reservation. 
Information was at once sent to the superintendent, 
residing at Salem, who thereupon made a demand 
upon the officer in command at the fort to take meas- 


ures to return these Indians, which effort for some 
time, however, remained unattempted. In the mean- 
time mismiderstandings arose between the superin- 
tendent and the agent, the former accusing the latter 
of allowing the Klamaths to ceaselessly annoy and 
insult the Modocs, whom he had ordered to change 
their location, and surrounded them with Klamaths, 
to their great dissatisfaction, under a pretense of pre- 
venting their escape. 

If there was one thing more than another on which 
Superintendent Meacham prided himself, it was his 
knowledge of and influence over Indians. Like Steele, 
who had accepted the chieftainship of Jack's band in 
1864, he was flattered by being looked up to by sav- 
ages. He had a theory that if a man only felt suffi- 
ciently his connnon brotherhood with the wild men, 
he would be able to control them through their affec- 
tions ; and although Jack seemed rather an unprom- 
ising subject for such practise, he anticipated the 
greater distinction from success. He was, therefore, 
indignant when it was reported to him that Knapp 
had done anything to displease Captain Jack, who, he 
said, could not be blamed for leaving the reservation 
under the circumstances. 

The circumstances as alleged by Jack were, that 
his people were obliged to labor at making rails, that 
tliey had little to eat, that the water on the reserva- 
tion was frozen, and that Captain Knapp moved them 
from place to place ; to which Knapp replied that 
they were placed at Modoc point at their own re- 
quest, and their proposed removal, about the 1st of 
April, was to a suitable place for opening farms and 
for obtaining wood and grass. It was this prospect 
of having to allow his men to be degraded by labor, 
instead of living off the sale of women and children, 
which hastened Captain Jack's departure. Meacham 
thought differently ; and in his dissatisfaction requested 
that some distinct special regulations should be pro- 
mulgated, whereby the relative positions of the military 


and Indian departments might be understood, embar- 
rassment removed, and harmony made possible. 

That there was some such necessity is apparent 
from the fact that enmity existed between Knapp of 
the agency and Goodale of the fort. Knapp, though 
it was his duty to have called upon the commandin^y 
officer of Fort Klamath to bring the absconding In- 
dians back, neglected to do so, upon his own belief 
that the force at that post was insufficient. This 
neglect caused Goodale to be censured, who placed 
the blame very promptly where it belonged; though 
at the same time he was compelled to admit that the 
judgment of Knapp in this matter was correct, and 
that he had not force sufficient to compel Jack to re- 
turn if he did not wish to, as plainly he did not. 

A year and a half elapsed, during which nothing 
was done to bring back the absentees. Captain Jack, 
grown bolder through success, and the encouragement 
given to his rebellion by that class of men known in 
the mines as ^* squaw men," meaning men who had 
taken to wife Indian women, either with or without 
tiie customary marriage ceremonies, and by other low- 
class whites, if not by the advice of some more respon- 
sible person, made him set up a claim to a tract six 
miles square, lying on both sides of the Oregon and 
California line, near the head of Tule lake, where Le 
proposed to establish himself as chief of the 200 or 
300 Modoc men, women, and children whom he had so 
far persuaded to follow him. Superintendent Meacham 
was too much occupied with Commissioner Brunot in 
examining into the condition of the Indians of Oregon 
generally to give his personal attention to the be- 
havior of Captain Jack, whom he the more willingly 
left to his own devices because he sympathized with 

In August 1870 Crook was relieved from the com- 
mand of the department of the Columbia by General 
Canby, and sent to fight the Indians in Arizona. For 


the same purpose the mihtary stations in Oregon were 
depleted, there being but one company, K, of the 23d 
infantry, at Fort Klamath, under Lieutenant Goodale, 
and no cavalry ; while at Camp Warner, the nearest 
post to Klamath, there was one company of cavalry 
and one of infantry. It could not be expected that 
one of these posts could assist the other, each having 
to keep in check a thousand savages, who might at 
any moment take advantage of relaxed vigilance to 
renew hostilities. Wherefore Jack continued to re- 
side at Lost river, visiting the reservation from time 
to time, clandestinely, to draw away other Modocs. 

But Sconchin, the head-chief of the tribe was able 
to keep a minority of the people on the reservation. 
History repeats itself in the wilderness as well as on 
the ashes of Empire. An Indian must be old to have 
any wisdom; it is always the "young men" who can- 
not be controlled, and who are the leaders in war. 
Sconchin had enjoyed his day as the blood-thirsty 
enemy of the white race, and many were the victims 
of his savage ferocity, when from a watch tower in 
Clear lake his spies looked for the dust of some 
toiUng emigrant train, for which he arranged the am- 
bush at Bloody point. That was all changed now. 
He had found the white men stronger than he, and 
wisely consented to be forgiven, and fed for the re- 
mainder of his days. Besides he was chief, and a 
chief must have a respectable following ; therefore his 
advice to the Modocs was to keep the treaty, and 
avoid hostilities with the United States government. 
He had been rewarded for his good behavior by being 
allowed to take his people to Camp Yainax, near his 
former home, in Sprague valley, about the time that 
Jack left the reservation. 

The Klamaths used formerly to be the friends of the 
Modocs, though they seemed not to have been so 
thoroughly base in their dispositions. Under Lalake 
they had been known to be guilty of murder and 
other atrocities; but after coming on the reservation, 


.and being instructed, and especially after Lalake was 
deposed and a remarkable young savage, named by 
the agent Allen David, promoted to the chieftainship, 
their ambition seemed to be to advance in civilization, 
which they were aware could be done only by con- 
forming to treaty regulations and cultivating the 
friendship cf the government. This conformity of the 
Klamaths, a source of pride, and perhaps of boasting 
with them, was obnoxious to Captain Jack, and a 
cause of his late feeling of hostility to the Klamaths ; 
the more so that the latter had acted with the whites 
against the hostile Snakes, and had helped to arrest 
the two Modocs guilty of carrying ammunition to the 
enemy, and afterward held in chains at Fort Klamath 
until the war ended. Such was the relative position 
of Jack and his band to Sconchins band and the 
Klamaths in the summer of 1870. 

I have elsewhere remarked that the constant scout- 
ing necessary during the Indian wars had revealed to 
the white men every feature of eastern and southern 
Oregon, hitherto but little known. Drew's recon- 
noissance from Fort Klamath to the Owyhee had led 
to the construction of the central military road from 
Eugefie city to the eastern boundary of the state; 
and the adaptability of the country to stock-raising 
being understood, invited its settlement by that class 
of farmers, who began to establish themselves in the 
numerous small valleys lying between the frequent 
ridges, very soon after the confirmation of the Klamath 
and Modoc treaty; so that in 1870 there were many 
settlers living in secluded homes miles apart, scattered 
over the lOamath basin from the reservation south to 
the Tule and Clear lakes. 

Since Jack had resolved to lay claim to that por- 
tion of the country about Tule lake — a claim favored 
by Meacham, of which fact Jack could not have been 
ignorant — the settlers in the vicinity of Lost river had 
felt some uneasiness, which w^as increased to alarm 


when in August, Jack's band began to kill their cattle, 
a sure indication of a determination to bring on hos- 
tilities. He had at this time about 200 followers, 
S^onchin having succeeded in withdrawing fnnn his 
iiifluence nearly seventy, who had been living at 
Camp Yainax, and which addition to his following 
made him the equal witli Jack iii point of numbers. 
Just before depredations were begun, Agent Knapp 
held a council with Jack, whom he met in Yreka, 
when the latter informed him that he would not go 
upon the reservation, and refused even to come to 
Camp Yainax to see the superintendent who was ex- 
pected there. Having thus thrown down the gaunt- 
let, it was but one step more to kill the stock of tlie 

Now commenced that prelhninary warfare the 
frontiersmen only too well understood. Roaming 
about tlie country in small parties, selecting a time 
when the men belonging to a farm were absent 
from their houses to dash up to the doors on horse- 
back, dismount and demand a cooked meal of the 
frightened women, during the preparation of which 
they freely occupied chairs or beds, making insulting 
gestures and remarks — these were the indications of 
what was surely to follow. To these outrages the 
settlers singly dared offer no resistance; nor could 
they collectively have done more than to hasten the 
outbreak. It was the duty of the superintendent to 
call for the arrest of these savages, and of the com- 
mander of Fort Klamath to perform it; but for rea- 
sons already alluded to, no arrests were made. 

During the summer of 1871 the insolence of Jack's 
band increased alarmingly. They frequently came 
upon the reservation, and about Forts Klamath and 
Warner, behaving in a defiant manner, saying that 
they had friends in Yreka who gave them passes and 
they should go where they pleased. So far as the asser- 
tion that they had "papers " was concerned, it was true 
that they carried letters written by persons of presumed 


respectability living in Yreka, testifying to the good 
conduct of Captain Jack ; and it was also true that 
some of the settlers living nearest to Jack's rendez- 
vous were averse to his being removed, feeling sure 
that the attempt would bring on a conflict which 
might prove fatal to them. 

At length Jack precipitated the necessity for ar- 
resting him by going upon the reservation and kill- 
ing an Indian doctor of Sconchin's band, who 
as he alleged, had caused the death of two mem- 
bers of his family. Wliether he believed that this 
was so, or only wished to carry out his defiant inten- 
tions, the result was the same; the terms of the treaty 
making it the duty of the government to defend the 
Indians on the reservation from their enemies, and on 
application of Ivan Applegate, commissary at Yainax, 
an attempt was made by the commander at Fort 
Klamath to arrest Jack, which effort was rendered 
ineffectual by those white friends of the renegade Mo- 
docs, the squaw men, living along the route travelled 
by the troops in going to Yreka. 

In October 1870 Agent Knapp of Klamath reser- 
vation, was relieved by John Meacham, brother of the 
superintendent, who was in charge at the time of the 
attempted arrest of Jack. There had also been a 
change of commanders at the foi*t, Captain James 
Jackson, 1st cavalry, havnig been ordered to this post, 
with his company, B, and to assume the command. 
When Agent Meacham informed the superintendent 
of the course pursued by the Modocs, that functionary 
desired that no arrests should be made until a confer- 
ence should have been had with Jack and his band, 
at the same time naming John Meacham and Ivan 
Applegate as his representatives to confer with them. 
This desire having been communicated to General 
Canby, tliat officer directed Captain Jackson to sus- 
pend any measures looking to the arrest of Jack or 
his followers until further advice, but to keep his com- 


mand in readiness to act promptly and efficiently f >r 
the protection of the settlers in the vicinity, should 
the conduct of the Indians make it necessary. At 
the same tune a confidential order was issued to the 
commanding officer at Vancouver to place in effective 
condition for field service two companies of infantry 
at tliat post. 

In the meantime the superintendent was pursuing 
his temporizing policy, advising the government to stul- 
tify itself by yielding to the demands of these Indians, 
and setting the example to other discontented bands, of 
which the warlike Snakes constituted several, to make 
similar requirements. His recommendations were 
met by counter advice from other persons interested in 
the proper settlement of the Indian question, and were 
not yet acted upon; while the encouragement thus 
held out to Jack's band to consider the Lost river 
country as their own, was doing its work in augment- 
ing their stubbornness and insolence. 

John Meacham, acting under instructions from the 
superintendent, sent Sconchin to find Jack and en- 
deavor to obtain a conference. Sconchin carried a 
letter to a man named Fairchild, living on the road 
from Tule lake to Yreka, well known to the Indians, 
and influential among them. Fairchild and Schon- 
chin, together, found and conversed with Jack, who 
would not agree to the proposition for a conference, 
and Sconchin returned to Camp Yainax. 

In the early part of the summer of 1871, Jesse Ap- 
plegate settled at Clear lake upon a tract of land 
owned by J. D. Carr, and lying partly in^ Oregon and 
partly in California, which was selected as a stock 
rancho from the swamp lands of the states, and of 
which Applegate was agent. On the settlement be- 
ing made at Clear lake. Jack demanded of Applegate 
a stated allowance of subsistence in consideration of 
having permission to settle in the country that he 
claimed, which demand was promptly refused, Apple- 


gate not choosing to recognize his right to levy as- 
sessments on citizens residing on land to which the 
Indian title had been extinguished. On this refusal 
by Applegate, Jim, one of the firmest of Jack's chosen 
friends, at the head of fifteen or twenty young war- 
riors, set out upon a tour of the farms in Sangell val- 
ley, lying to the north of Clear lake, alarming the 
people by their insolent behavior, and causing them to 
complain to the agent at Yainax, and through hhn to 
the superintendent. These things led to the attempt 
to obtain a conference with Jack, to secure which he 
was given to understand that tlie killing of the doctor 
would be overlooked, and he allowed to remain for the 
time in the Lost river country upon his promise to 
conduct himself peaceably. 

At length he informed Applegate of Clear lake 
that he would consent to see the commissioners ap- 
pointed by the superintendent to confer with him, 
provided they would come to him at Clear lake, at- 
tended by not more than four men, he agreeing to 
have with him the same number. On this announce- 
ment Jesse Applegate sent a messenger in haste to 
Yainax, and Ivan Applegate and John Meacham re- 
paired at once to the rendezvous, attended by two 
white men and two Indians from the reservation. 
The distance to be travelled was sixty miles, and they 
arrived there on the 15th, where they found Jack 
surrounded by twenty-nine warriors in the paint and 
feathers of war. 

The conference opened awkwardly, Jack seeming 
embarrassed and disinclined to talk. But Black Jim 
occupied some time in denouncing the officers of the 
military and Indian departments in terms of bitter 
invective, after which Jack found words, and gave the 
commissioners a history of his grievances. He gave 
as a reason for not returning to the reservation that 
he feared the Klamath '^ medicine," though Camp 
Yainax, where the Modocs were living, was forty miles 
from the Klamath agency. He complained that the 


Klamaths made him angry by assuming to own the 
wood, grass, and water on the reservation, drawing 
an effective picture of the miseries of such a state of 
dependence. He denied that his people had ever done 
anything to disturb the settlers, though they had in 
the summer of 1870 driven away several families who 
had settled around the north end of Tule lake the 
previous winter, when Jack and his band were on the 
reservation, where he was expected to remain. H. 
F. Miller subsequently returned, and made some ar- 
rangement with the Indians, paying them an assess- 
ment, and being one of those whites opposed to the 
removal of the Indians from interested motives. Jack 
demanded to know who had given information against 
him, but the knowledge was withheld, for obvious 

The conference amounted to this, that Jack prom- 
ised to listen to the agent's advice, not to do anything 
to annoy the settlers, and not to resist the military, 
and was given permission to remain where he was 
until the superintendent should come to see them. 
Agent Meacham wrote to the superintendent that no 
danger was to be apprehended at that time of any 
serious trouble between the Modocs and the settlers. 
Yet on that same night, after the commissioners had 
started on their return to Yainax, it was warmly de- 
bated in the Modoc camp whether or not to open hos- 
tilities at once by killing the Clear lake settlers. 

The report of Meacham's conference with Jack, and 
his assurance that no immediate danger existed, was 
communicated by the superintendent to Canby, who 
in turn communicated the same to the commander of 
the division at San Francisco, and the matter rested. 
This impression was strengthened by the report of the 
military inspector, Ludington, who entered Oregon 
from the south by the route passing by camps Bid- 
well, Warner, and Harney, that the people along the 
route seemed free from any fear of Indians, and that 
any rumors to the contrary were occasioned by the 



petty annoyances of individuals or small parties of 
Indians visiting the settlements, but unattended by 
violence or threats. The military department, except- 
ing the inspector, who did not visit Klamath, and 
Jackson, who should have been better informed, could 
not be blamed for not knowing the true position of 
affairs, since it was the duty of the Indian department 
to give such information as the welfare of either set- 
tlers or Indians required, and the superintendent had 
reported that there was no danger. 

But so the settlers of Lost river. Link river, Klam- 
ath, and Tule lake districts did not feel. On the con- 
trary, they petitioned the superintendent of Indian 
affairs, and the general commanding the department 
of the Columbia, to remove the Modocs to the reser- 
vation, saying that the conduct of the Indians was 
such that they dared not allow their families to remain 
in the country, and in fact a number of families were 
removed to Rogue River valley, in anticipation of a 
conflict with the Modocs, some families going and 
returning several times as they were more or less 

The petition of the settlers did not reach headquar- 
ters until late in January 1872, though it must have 
been in the superintendent's hands. That complaints 
were made by the citizens to the commander at 
Fort Klamath is shown by the correspondence on file 
in the department. Captain Jackson having been asked 
to be more explicit in making statements. 

On the 25th of January the superintendent sent 
the petition to Canby, with a request that the Modocs 
be removed to Camp Yainax, and suggesting that not 
less than fifty troops be sent to perform the duty of 
removing them. Jesse Applegate was instructed to 
accompany the expedition, if not objected to by the 

To Meacham's letter, Canby replied that he had 
considered the Modoc question temporarily settled by 
the permission given them to remain where the com- 


missioners had found them in the previous August ; 
and that he did not think it would be expedient to 
send a military force against them until they had been 
notified of the determination of the government to 
make the change contemplated, and notice given of 
the point selected, as well as the time fixed upon for 
removal; but that in the meantime the commanding 
officer at Fort Klamath would be directed to take all 
necessary measures to protect the settlers, or to aid 
in the removal of the Modocs should forcible means 
be required. 

In reply to Canby, Meacham gave as a reason for 
previous action that in his report for 1871, he had 
recommended that a small reservation be made for 
the Modocs at the north end of Tule lake, but 
that the department had not yet taken any action in 
the matter ; and accounted for his change of policy in 
asking for their removal to Yainax by saying that 
they had agreed to remain where the council was held 
at Clear lake, whereas they were then at Tule lake, 
sixty miles from the council ground, and had conse- 
quently forfeited all claims to forbearance. He re- 
paated his request for their removal to the reservation, 
and recommended that Captain Jackson be instructed 
to arrest Jack, and five or six of his head men, and 
hold them in confinement until further orders were 
received from Washington; but the military orders 
show that Jackson was only instructed to keep the 
department informed of the condition of affairs rela- 
tive to the Modocs. 

There was at this time a continual interchange of 
correspondence between the superintendent and 
Canby; and it appears that Meacham was able to 
thoroughly infuse into the mind of the general that 
the Modocs were in the position of a helpless and in- 
jured people, who had been driven from the reserva- 
tion by their enemies the Klamaths. In a letter to 
Canby dated February 18, 1872, he repeated that 
they were abused by the Klamaths, and that the sub- 



agent falling to protect them they left the reserva- 
tion, having been upon it but three months, in the 
winter of 1869-70. Why they had refused to come 
upon the reservation before that time, he did not say, 
nor make any reference to the fact that they were 
coerced into coming at that time; and that conse- 
quently their dislike to the reservation did not have 
its foundation in the conduct of the Klamath s during 
those three months. Thus while Canby was asked to 
compel the Modocs to go upon their reservation, he 
was furnished with a cogent reason for hesitating to 
do so; and was placed by the statements of the sup- 
erintendent of Indian affairs in the position too often 
occupied by the military department, of opposition to 
the people whose property and lives were involved. 
And not only Canby, but the commander of the 
division, who received his information from Canby, 
was influenced in like manner. 

Alarmed by the delay in arresting Jack and his 
confederates, a petition was forwarded by the people 
of Klamath basin to Governor Grover, of Oregon, to 
urge the superintendent to remove the Modocs, or in 
caee this was not done, to authorize the organization 
of a company of mounted militia, to be raised in the 
settlements for three months' service, unless sooner 
discharged by the governor. In this petition the set- 
tlers reiterated their former statements, saying they 
had been harassed for four years by the Modocs, 
who were about 250 in number, with about eighty 
warriors every day growing more insolent. 

The military, said the petitioners, are keen to ex- 
tend the desired protection, but are subject to the 
superintendent's order, who has turned a deaf ear to 
our numerous petitions; and unless the governor 
could help them there was no further authority to 
which they could appeal. They were scattered over 
a large area of country, and in case of an outbreak the 
loss of life would be heavy, a contingency they were 
seekino; to avoid 


Governor Grover at once called upiin Superintend- 
ent Meacham, who thus urged renewed his applica- 
tion to General Canby for troops to arrest Jack, 
seconded by a letter from the governor. To this 
application Canby replied that he had sent an order 
to the commanding officer of the district of the lakes 
to establish in the threatened neighborhood a cavalry 
force sufficient to protect the settlers; adding that 
until the questions submitted by the superintendent 
to the commissioners of Indian affairs at Washington 
should be settled, it was his duty to prevent a war if 
possible; but if that could not be done, all the forces 
needed to suppress the Indians would be applied » 
According to these instructions Major E. Otis sent a 
detachment of fifty cavalry and three officers to es- 
tablish a temporary camp in the Lost river district, 
which for the time relieved the settlers without re- 
moving the cause of their anxiety. 

Early in April Meacham was relieved of the 
superintendency, and L. B. Odeneal appointed in his 
place. The position, owing to the Modoc difficulty, 
was not without serious responsibilities, and so Ode- 
neal felt it to be. One of his first acts was to take 
counsel of Major Otis in regard to the propriety of 
permitting Jack's band to remain any longer where 
they were. Otis made a formal recommendation in 
writing, that the permission given them by Meacham 
the previous August should be withdrawn, and they 
be directed to go upon the reservation ; but that the 
order should not be given before September, so that 
in case they refused, the military authorities could 
put them upon it during the winter season, which was 
considered the most favorable time for the under- 
taking. Otis further recommended placing Jack and 
Black Jim on the Siletz reservation, or any other 
place of banishment from their people; and stated as 
his reason for this advice that in his judgment there 
would be no peace for the people^ to whom they were 


insolent and insulting, so long as permitted to roam 
about the country, without the presence of a consid- 
erable military force to compel good behavior. In 
order to make room for the Modocs, and remove all 
cause of complaint it was proposed to place Otseho's 
band of Snakes, together with Wewawewa's and some 
others, on a reservation in the Malheur country. The 
same suggestion was made in a communication to 
Canby April 15 th. 

While these matters were under discussion an 
order arrived from the commissioner of Indian affairs 
to remove the Modocs, if practicable, to the reserva- 
tion already set apart for them under the treaty of 
October 1864, and to see that they were properly pro- 
tected from the Klamaths — showing that Jack's story 
of abuse had reached Washington. The superintend- 
ent, if he could not remove them, or could not keep 
them on the reservation, was instructed to report his 
views of locating them at some other point, naming 
and describing such place as he selected. 

Not wishing to make the journey to Klamath, 
Odeneal wrote to agent Dyar at the reservation and 
Commissary Ivan Applegate, at Yainax, to see Cap- 
tain Jack, and endeavor to persuade him to return to 
the reservation. Previous to this order, on the 3d of 
March, Major Otis had made an attempt similar to 
the one now required of the agent at Klamath. By 
means of his Indian scouts under Donald McKay, he 
opened communication with Jack, assuring him of 
the peaceable nature of his mission, and inviting him 
to meet him at Linkville, a settlement founded by 
George Nourse at the lower end of the upper Kla- 
math lake. But Jack declined to meet the major 
anywhere but in his own country. After considerable 
negotiation it was arranged that the meeting should 
take place at Lost river gap, the soldiers to be left 
at Linkville, and Jack's warriors, except half a dozen 
men, to be left away from the council ground. Otis 
went to the rendezvous with Agent High, two of 

Cal. Int. Poc, 30 


the Applegates, three or four settlers as witnesses, j 
and three or four Klamath scouts, and found Jack ' 
awaiting him with thirty-nine fighting men, as on a 
previous occasion he had met Meacham. The council 
proved as little productive of satisfactory results as 
the former one. 

When the order came . from the commissioner I 
through Superintendent Odeneal to inform the Mo- ' 
docs of the wish of the government that they should 
comply with their treaty obligations, Schonchin was 
employed to act as messenger and arrange for a con- 
ference. As before he required the agents of the 
government to come to him, and the rendezvous was : 
appointed at the military camp at Juniper springs on 
Lost river. Dyar and Applegate, attended by the head 
men of the reservation Modocs, met Jack and his favor- 
ite warriors on the 14th of May, when every argument . 
and inducement was held out to influence them to 
keep the treaty ; but all to no purpose. Promises of \ 
ample protection, subsistence, and privileges were of 
no effect. ■ The unalterable reply of Jack was ever to 
the effect that he should stay where he was, and 
would not molest settlers if they did not locate them- , 
selves on the west side of Lost river near the mouth, ; ' 
where he had his winter camp. The settlers he said ' 
were always lying about him and trying to make 
trouble; but his people were good people and would 
not frighten or kill anybody. He desired only peace, 
and was governed by the advice of the people of 
Yreka who knew and understood him. 

At this conference Sconchin made a strong appeal 
to the Modocs, urging them to accept the benefits of 
the reservation, and pointing out the danger of resist- 
ing the efforts of the government to induce them to 
comply with the terms of the treaty. But all was in 
vain, and Jack as heretofore occupied his position of 
defiance to the government. 

As the commissioners were instructed, in case the 
Modocs refused to go upon the reservation, to select 


and describe some other location favorable to the pur- 
pose of carrying out the attempt to tame them, they 
reported that no situation outside of the reservation 
had been found so suitable as the reserve itself for the 
purpose, all the good agricultural land being taken 
up, and most of the grazing land having been located 
as state land In addition, the settlers were determined 
in their opposition to having the Modocs located in 
their midst at Lost river. They recommended, there- 
fore, that they be placed on the reservation. 

This report being sent to the superintendent was 
forwarded to the commissioner at Washington, F. A. 
Walker, together with his own opinion on the subject, 
which was that the head men should be arrested and 
taken to some point remote from their tribe until they 
should agree to keep the laws, and the remainder b^ 
removed to Yainax; the time suggested for the accom- 
plishment of this plan being the last of September. 
On receiving this communication, which was approved 
the commissioner issued to the superintendent an or- 
der to remove the Modocs to the Klamath reserva- 
tion, "peaceably if you can, forcibly if you must," at 
the time suggested. 

On the 11th of May, Otis reported that since his 
conference with them in March, the Modocs had been 
quiet, giving no cause of complaint. They Wtre at 
that time scattered from Yreka to Camp Yainax, and 
through the mountains in the vicinity of Lost river, 
rendering the camp at tliat place useless, and he re- 
commended its withdrawal, proposing instead of a 
camp, to make an occasional tour through the coun- 
try. The troops were accordingly withdrawn about 
the last of the month. No sooner, however, w^ere 
the troops returned to Fort Klamath, than the same 
excitement prevailed as before. Captain Jack with 
forty armed men presented himself at a camp of the 
reservation Indians, off on their summer furlough, and 
behaved in such a manner as to frighten them back 
to the reser\?ation in cjreat haste. The settlers were 


hardly less alarmed, and talked of organizing a militia 
company for protection. The usual correspondence 
followed between the Indian and military departments, 
Canby assuring the superintendent that the settlers 
would be protected. 

While the Modoc question was thus approaching a 
climax, influences unknown to the departments were at 
work to confirm Captain Jack in his defiant course, 
his friends in Yreka having encouraged him to believe 
that an arrangement could be made by which he could 
remain at Lost river by oflfering to secure the per- 
mission of the government. This offer led to further 
opposition by the Modocs, who in their ignorance of 
government affairs, and respect for Steele — whom they 
still regarded as clothed with authority to direct them, 
and whom they trusted as their confidential friend — 
believed they would be defended in resisting the au- 
thorities in Oregon — a mistake which was to lead to 
the most deplorable consequences. 

It was now definitely settled by the proper author- 
ities that the Modocs were to be removed to the res- 
ervation before winter. For this purpose superintend- 
ent Odeneal repaired to Klamath where he arrived 
on the 25th of November, whence he sent James 
Brown, of Salem, and Ivan Applegate to Lost river 
to request the Modocs to meet him at Linkville on 
the 27th. At the same time the messengers were in- 
structed to say that the superintendent had only the 
kindest feelings for them ; that he had made ample 
provision for their comfortable support at Yainax, 
where, if they would go within a reasonable time, 
they should be fairly dealt with and fully protected ; 
and if they would go there at once with Applegate, 
he would meet them there, but if they refused he re- 
quired them to meet him at Linkville in order that a 
final understanding with them might be had. 

Captain Jackson had been superseded in the com- 
mand of Fort Klamath by Major Hunt, who in turn 


-was relieved July 17, 1872, by Major John Green, in 
command at this time. Major Otis had also been re- 
lieved of the command of the district of the Lakes, 
June 18th, by Colonel Frank Wheaton, 21st infantry. 
To Wheaton, Odeneal addressed a communication at 
the same time, informing him of the purpose of his 
visit, to carry out the instructions of the commissioner 
to remove the Modocs to the reservation. Odeneal 
had been of the opinion, when he came into office, 
that force would not be necessary; but on learning 
more about the matter, and conferring with Ivan 
Applegate, he asked to have a force in readiness suffi- 
cient to overawe the Indians, should they prove refrac- 
tory on receiving his message, so suggesting to Wheaton 
in preferring his request to have the troops ready 
for immediate action in case they were needed. 

On the 27th the superintendent, in company with 
Dyar from the Klamath agency, went to Linkville to 
meet the Modocs, as he had appomted, but there 
found only his messengers, who informed him of Jack's 
refusal either to go upon the reservation or to meet 
him at Link\ille. ''Say to the superintendent," said 
Jack, who with a part of his men was in camp at Lost 
river, "that we do not wish to see him, or to talk 
with hhn. We do not want any white men to tell us 
what to do. Our friends and counsellors are men in 
Yreka. They tell us to stay where we are, and we 
intend to do so, and will not go upon the reservation. 
I am tired of being talked to, and am done talking." 

It being now apparent that nothing short of an 
armed force could influence these Indians to submit to 
the government, the superintendent sent a report of 
the late conference of his messengers with Captain 
Jack, and of the reply of Jack to his proposals, together 
with the order of the commissioner, to Green, with a 
request that he should furnish sufficient force to com- 
pel the Modocs to go upon their reservation ; and in 
case it became necessary to use compulsory measures, 
to arrest first of all Jack, Black Jim, and Scarfaced 


Cliarley, holding them subject to his orders. In re- 
ply to this demand, Green sent word that Jackson 
would at once leave the post with about thirty men. 

It had never been in contemplation by the superin- 
tendent or agents, or by General Canby, that any 
number of troops under fifty should attempt to arrest 
Jack and his head men. Indeed, the general had is- 
sued a special order early in September, giving the 
commander of the district of the Lakes control of the 
troops at Fort Klamath, that in an emergency he 
miglit have men enough to make the attempt at re- 
moval successful. On receiving these instructions 
Wheaton replied that he had directed Green to keep 
him fully and promptly advised by courier of any 
change in the attitude of the Modocs, and should it 
be necessary he should move into the Modoc country 
with every available mounted man from Camp Har- 
ney, Bidwell, Warner, and Klamath. 

Had a strong force of cavalry been called out, and 
proceeded with proper caution, doubtless the arrest 
might have been made. But the officers at Fort 
Klamath flattered themselves that the Indians would 
yield at once to the troops, the more so that the 
weather was stormy and unfavorable to escape. 
Green, therefore, after despatching a courier to 
Wheaton, did not wait for instructions or reenforce- 
ments, but sent upon this doubtful errand a force of 
thirty- six men, believing that if surprised the Indians 
would surrender. 

The troops left Fort Klamath at noon on the 28th 
of November, officered by Jackson, Boutelle, and 
McEldery. Odeneal, who had sent his messenger 
Brown to notify all settlers who would be endangered 
by an unsuccessful engagement with the Indians, also 
met Jackson on the road about one o'clock on the 
morning of the 29th, and directed him to say to the 
head men of the Modocs that he had 'not come to 
fight them, but to conduct them peaceably to Yainax, 


where arrangements had been made for their recep- 
tion; not to fire a gun except in self-defence, after 
they had first fired upon him; and in every way to 
guard against any appearance of hostihty. 

Guided by Ivan Applegate, the troops moved on 
through a heavy rainstorm, arriving near Jack's camp 
about daybreak. Jackson then formed his troops in 
hne and advanced rapidly upon the Modocs who 
were surprised but not unprepared. Halting his men 
at the edge of the camp, Jackson called to them to 
lay down their arms and surrender, Applegate inter- 
preting and explaining the meaning of the visit, ask- 
ing them to yield to the authority of the Indian de- 
partment. A part of them seemed willing to do so, 
but Scarfaced Charley, Black Jim, and some others 
retained their guns making hostile demonstrations. 

Three-quarters of an hour was spent in parleying, 
during which these few leaders grew more determined, 
and at length Jackson ordered Boutelle to take some 
men from the line and arrest them. As Boutelle ad- 
vanced in front of his men, Scarfaced Charley ex- 
claimed with an oatli that he would kill one officer, 
and fired at him. This was the signal for hostilities 
to commence. A volley from both sides opened 
simultaneously, and Boutelle lost, almost at the first 
volley, one man killed and seven wounded. The 
troops kept up a rapid firing, killing in a short time 
fifteen Indians. 

Up to the time that firing commenced. Jack had 
taken no part in the conversation, but lay sullenly in 
his tent, refusing to come forth or make any answer 
to the propositions When hostilities began, how- 
ever, he showed himself prepared and retreated 

Mr Applegate says that the Modocs had for a 
long time vigilantly guarded against surprise; and 
after Ivan and Brown had left, Jack gathered the 
warriors, so that at the time of the fight their aggre- 
gate number of men and boys capable of bearing 


arms was probably twice as great as at the time of 
Ivan's visit. Every circumstance indicated that they 
were prepared for any emergency. The horses were 
all gathered in bands near the encampments, and an 
Indian evidently on guard, fired his gun and ran for 
camp shouting soldiers I soldiers! when Jackson's 
troops first appeared. 

The great error of attempting the jarrest of the 
Modoc leaders with so small a force became now ap- 
parent. Had Jack and a few others been taken, 
there would havfe been nothing to fear from the 
others, who would have been restrained by apprehen- 
sion of punishment falling on their leaders. But no 
arrests being made, the advantage was all on the side 
of the savages. The already too light force of Jack- 
son was rendered less efficient by having to care for 
the wounded whom he dared not leave in camp, lest 
the Modoc women who still remained should kill and 
mutilate them. Leaving only a light skirmish line in 
charge of Boutelle, he was forced to employ the re- 
mainder of his men in removing the dead and wounded 
to the north side of the river in canoes, and thence 
half a mile below to the cabin of one Dennis Crawley. 
Having done this he returned to the southwest side 
of the river and dismantled the Indian camp, destroy- 
ing whatever property it contained, among other 
things three rifles and two saddles found in Jack's 
wickiup. In the meantime a party of settlers con- 
sisting of Oliver Applegate, James Brown, J. Bur- 
nett, Dennis Crawley, E. Monroe, Thurber, Caldwell, 
and others, who had collected at Crawley's to await 
the event of the attempted arrest, attacked a smaller 
camp on the north side, and had one man, Thurber, 
killed. They then retired to Crawley's place, and 
kept up firing at long range, preventing the Indians 
from crossing the river and attacking Jackson's com- 
mand on the flank and rear. While the fight was 
going on, two settlers William Nus and Joseph Pen- 
ning, coming up the road, unaware of danger, were 


fired upon and wounded, Nus fatally, within half a 
mile of the house, which they reached before Nus 
died. Applegate, Brown, Burnett, and others then 
went in various directions to warn the settlers that 
hostilities had begun, which left but a small force at 
Crawley's to protect the wounded and the other 

During the forenoon Crawley came to Jackson with 
the information that the Indians on the noith side 
under two noted Modocs, Hooker Jim, and Curly- 
headed Doctor, were preparing to attack his place. 
On this information, he mounted his men and rode 
rapidly up the river eight miles to the ford, where 
alone the cavalry could cross, arriving at Crawley's 
late in the afternoon. In the meantime the Indians 
burned some hay, and committed some minor depre- 
dations in sight of the troops. Darkness brought a 
cessation of hostilities. 

While these events were taking place, no one seemed 
to have thought of the danger that threatened the 
settlers in the lower country around Tule lake. Cap- 
tain Jackson was ignorant that there were any inhab- 
itants in the vicinity who had not been warned ; but 
on the morning of the 30th, having heard that there 
was a family named Boddy about three and a half 
miles below Crawley's, he sent a detachment, guided 
by Crawley, to ascertain their condition. At Boddy 's 
house no one was found; but everything being in order, 
with no signs of violence, and the horses being in the 
corral, Crawley came to the conclusion that the family 
had been warned, and had fled southward, warning 
others, and he therefore returned with a corresponding 
report. Such, however, was not the fact. 

While the fight was going on, during the morning 
of the 29th, a party of Modocs, escaping and making 
their way toward their afterward celebrated stronghold 
in the lava beds, had killed three men and one boy of 
this family who were found in the woods at work cut- 


ting and hauling fire wood. The women, two in num- 
ber, were permitted to escape. The Boddy family 
consisted of William, his wife, his daughter and her 
husband, Nicholas Schira, and his step-sons, William 
and Richard Cravigan. Mrs Schira's narrative was 
substantially as follows : On the morning of the 29th 
Mr Schira was looking after some sheep on the border 
of Tule lake, and came in during the forenoon with 
some ducks he had shot, changing his muddy boots, 
and afterward taking his team and going to the woods 
for a load. Mrs Schira subsequently took the wet 
boots out in the sun to dry them, and it being a quar- 
ter past eleven, she thought it time for her husband 
to be returning. Looking up the road, she saw the 
team coming without a driver. She went up to the 
mules and stopped them, took up the lines, and saw 
that they were bloody. She informed her mother 
that something had happened to her husband, and 
after putting the animals in the stable, the two women 
walked up the road together. About a half mile from 
the house they found Schira, dead, shot through the 
head with a revolver. Mrs Schira then remembered 
her brother Richard, who would be coming home with 
her husband, and ran on, leaving her mother, who 
could not keep up with her. As she ran, she saw 
Hooker Jim's Indian wife emerge from the sage-brush, 
and afterward Hooker Jim, Curly-headed Doctor, 
Long Jim, One-eyed Mose, Rock Dave, and Humpy 
Jerry, all well-known Modocs. They did not inter- 
cept her, but went toward her mother, who was still 
beside the dead man, and asked her if there were any 
men at the house. Knowing well that much depended 
on her reply, she feigned not to understand their pur- 
pose, answering, '^No, the mules have run away and 
killed the driver, and I am looking: for our men." At 
this answer they left Mrs Boddy without molesting 
her, but could not have gone to the house, perhaps 
fearing to find men there notwithstanding Mrs Boddy 's 
denial. Other Indians who came that way a day 


later robbed the place of $800, every article of value, 
and took seven horses besides. The body of Schira, 
which was not mutilated when she left it, before she 
saw it again was much mangled. After finding the 
body of her brother, Mrs Schira, with her mother, 
fled over the timbered ridge toward Crawley's, but 
while on the crest, happening to see the men gathered 
at that place, they mistook them for Indians, and 
turned toward the highest hills between them and 
Linkville, where they found snow lying, through which 
they travelled until late at night, when they sat down 
under a juniper tree to wait for daylight, by which 
time Mrs Schira's feet were so swollen that she could 
not wear her shoes. Tearing up part of her dress, 
Mrs Boddy bound up her daughter's feet, and they 
continued their flight, having eaten nothing since the 
previous morning. When near the bridge on Lost 
river, about half way to Linkville, they were met by 
Mr Cole, who conducted them to the bridge, from 
which place they were taken to Linkville in a wagon 
by Mr Roberts, where for the first time they heard 
of the aflPair of the day before, which had caused their 
terrible calamities. On the 2d of December Mrs 
Schira returned, with a party of four volunteers, in a 
wagon furnished by Mr Nourse, to look for her dead. 

On arriving at Crawley's she found that Boutelle 
had that morning gone down with three men on the 
same errand, and when he returned had found three 
of the bodies, Schira, Boddy, and Richard Boddy. 
The younger brother was not found for twelve days, 
having fled, on being attacked, from the place where 
he was herding sheep, and where they expected to 
find him, into the thick woods, where he was over- 
taken and killed. The Boddy family were from Aus- 
tralia, and were industrious worthy people. 

It did not appear that the party of Indians com- 
mitted any further murders that day. On the follow- 
ing day they killed a number of persons about the 
border of Tule lake, and among others their good 


friend H. F. Miller, just when and how there were no 
witnesses to relate. Living within seventy-five yards 
of Miller's house was a family named Brotherton, 
three men of which wer6 killed. The remainder of 
the family would have shared the same fate but for 
the courage of Mrs Brotherton, wlio defended her 
house and children until relief arrived, three days 
after the slaughter of her husband and sons. 

The account Mrs Botherton gave when rescued 
was, that on Saturday, the 30th of November, be- 
tween two and three o'clock in the afternoon, she saw 
at some distance approaching the house, eight Indian 
men and eight women, who had the horses belonging 
to her husband. They surrounded the house of John 
Shroeder, in sight of her own, and shot Shroeder, 
who was on horseback, and who tried to escape by 
running his horse, but was overtaken and killed. 
Joseph Brotherton, fifteen years of age, was in com- 
pany with Shroeder, but being on foot, and only a 
boy, they gave all their attention to the man on 
horseback. Mrs Brotherton seeing her son running 
toward the house, went out to meet him with a re- 
volver. A younger boy, Louis, fearing for his 
mother, called her back and ran after her, but she 
ordered him back to the house to get his Henry rifle, 
telling him to elevate the sight 800 yards, and fire at 
the Indians. He obeyed — his little sister wiping and 
handling the cartridges. In this manner the mother 
was protected by one son, while she rescued another. 
She returned safely to the house and the door was 
closed and fastened. The Indians then rode past, 
half a mile, to the tules, where they left their horses, 
and came back on foot, keeping Miller's house be- 
tween them and the Henry rifle. Entering Miller's 
house, they pillaged it, having already killed him. 
Under Mrs Brotherton's directions, tliere was a port 
hole bored on the side of her house toward Miller's. 
As the auger came through the Indians saw it, and 
fired, but without hitting anyone. The boy at the 


hole returned the fire and wounded Long Jim. One 
Indian was killed by Mrs Brotherton. 

While this was going on, an Indian woman who 
had been living with Sover as his wife, came to Mrs 
Brotherton's door, wishing to be taken in. The Ind- 
ians ordered her away, and threatened to kill her if she 
refused to go. She told them to kill her, if they wished, 
being then in deep grief for her white husband ; but 
they replied that they killed Boston men, not women. 
At length Mrs Brotherton, whose sympathy was 
aroused for the poor creature, opened the door to ad- 
mit her, and Hooker Jim, who was waiting for this 
opportunity, shot into the opening, fortunately with- 
out hitting anyone. At dark the Indians went away, 
and did not return, though Mrs Brotherton dared not 
relax her guard, and was not relieved until the third 
day, when a party under Ivan Applegate came that 
way, and took the family to Crawley's, ten miles 

On leaving Mrs Brotherton's, the Indians proceeded 
along the eastern border of the lake to the house of 
Louis Land, a stock raiser. What transpired there 
could only be surmised by those who afterward found 
the cabin destroyed, and the dead body of his herder 
in the road near the Brotherton place, where he had 
fallen after a chase of over nine miles. Land was ab- 
sent; but a man in his service, Adam Shillinglow, 
was killed; also Erasmus, Collins, and two strangers 
riding along the road. The number of white men 
killed on the 29th and 30th of November was eighteen. 

The distance from Crawley's, which was now the 
central point of interest in the Klamath valley, to 
Fort Klamath was nearly sixty miles. The agency 
was a few miles nearer. Camp Yaiiiax was about the 
same distance. It was twenty -three miles to Link- 
ville, where the road to the Eogue Biver valley left 
the Klamath basin at Link river ; and sixty-five miles 
from there to Ashland on the other side of the Cas- 


cade mountains. These distances in a new country 
without telegraph Hnes or railroads, were insuperable 
obstacles to the swift movement necessary to the 
emergency which had overtaken the people in Klam- 
ath valley. Nevertheless, what could be done by 
rapid riding was done. Couriers flew in every direc- 
tion with news of the disasters of the 29th. 

As soon as the intelligence reached Klamath agency, 
Dyar raised a company of thirty-six Klamaths, whom 
he placed under D. J. Ferree, and sent to Crawley's 
to reinforce Jackson. Oliver Applegate hastened to 
Yainax, and after talking to Schonchin, who assured 
him of the good faith of the Modocs at that camp, 
placed fifteen of Schonchin's people on guard under 
the white employes, and taking with him nine reser- 
vation Indians, part Modocs and part Klamaths, 
without any other white man he crossed the Sprague 
river mountains into Langell's valley, and to Clear 
lake, the residence of his uncle, Jesse Applegate. 
This severe test of the good will of the reservation 
Indians was nobly borne by them, demonstrating on 
their part the utmost regard for Applegate's person 
and safety on the dangerous journey. 

Arriving at Clear lake on the 2d of December, he 
found his brother Ivan with a party of six citizens 
from Linkville, who had been through the country to 
warn the settlers. They left Linkville on the 1st of 
December, having been compelled to wait for arms to 
be sent from Fort Klamath before setting out, and 
accompanied by five cavalrymen, detached from Jack- 
son's command; had already visited all the settlements 
known to them, and learned the fate of the settlers 
on Tule lake, sending the remains of the Brotherton 
family to Crawley's, as already related. 

Leaving the cavalrymen at Clear lake to protect 
the family of Jesse Applegate, Ivan and Oliver joined 
their forces and searched the country to recover the 
bodies of the murdered men, without success on that 
day, On the 3d Oliver Applegate's party found Shil- 


litiglow's body, which one of the Indian volunteers, a 
son of old Schonchin, bound upon a horse. 

Ivan Applegate's party were scattered over several 
miles of country looking for the dead. Two men, 
Charles Monroe and George Fisck, were left with a 
wagon at the Brotherton place to find the body of 
Schroeder. When they saw the party of Modocs and 
Klamaths approaching, with their leader disguised as 
an Indian, supposing them to be the enemy, they 
fled into the cover of the tall sage-brush and con- 
cealed themselves until undeceived by the voice of 
Applegate, when they joined him and went with him 
to the house. While Applegate looked over the prem- 
ises his Indian volunteers sat outside on their horses, 
and Fisck returned to his search for the missing- 
bodies. Being in the stable, Applegate heard loud 
shrieks, and looking out saw Fisck riding at the top 
of his speed, pursued by Scarface Charley and fifteen 
others. At Schroeder's cabin some of the savages 
halted to set fire to it, while Scarface kept up the pur- 
suit of Fisck, who finally gained the stable, which 
Applegate had already began to fortify, piling up logs 
to strengthen the wall, while three of his Modocs 
stood guard outside. 

As the enemy approached, the guards fired. The 
fire was returned, when Scarface passed by, and 
stopped about four hundred yards away to counsel 
with his party. In order to gain time, Applegate 
directed Jim Sconchln to go out to them and hold a 
parley. That Applegate had the most entire confi- 
dence in his Indian allies was shown by this action; 
for had Jim the least desire to join the enemy, some 
of whom were his relatives, the opportunity was fur- 
nished. So far was he from betraying his almost 
single-handed white leader, that he quite deceived 
Scarface and his followers, pretending to them to 
have a party of sympathizers at the stable, and offer- 
ing to bring them out to confer with him. 

During this conference Jim learned that the hostile 


Modocs had planned to finish the work of spoliation 
on that day. Captain Jack, with eighteen warriors, 
was to operate on the west side of Lost river to the 
stone ford, cross there, and join Scarface. After they 
had killed all the men who were out looking for the 
dead, and burned all the houses, they would return 
to Crawley's the same night, and attack Jackson's 
camp. Charged with these particulars, Jim returned 
to the stable, which had been hurriedly converted 
into a fort, with port-holes bristling with guns. 

Scarface waited some time for the return of his 
supposed ally, who not coming, he cautiously advanced, 
and seeing the preparations made to receive him knew 
he had been outwitted. Fearing to make a charge 
from that side, he took a circuit and when out of rifle 
range started at a brisk gait to swoop down upon the 
stable from the rear. A.gain Jim Sconchin filled the 
breach of danger, darting across the open space be- 
tween the stable and a hayrick, and firing the hay. 
It flamed up, and the attacking party retired to the 
shelter of the sage-brush, half a mile off. 

In the meantime the party of white men under Ivan 
Applegate were at no great distance away, and saw 
much that was transpiring without understanding it. 
Mistaking his brother's party of Indians for the enemy, 
and having witnessed the pursuit of Fisck by Scarface 
and the subsequent burning of the hayrick, Mr Apple- 
gate supposed that the greater part of Jack's force was 
at the Brotherton place, and signaling his men to 
come together, they hastily retreated to Crawley's to 
inform the commander of the military forces of the 
whereabouts of the enemy, and also that Fisck and 
Monroe were killed, as he believed they were, and as 
they would have been but for his brother. 

The guns that were fired as signals by Ivan Apple- 
gate were equally misinterpreted by those in the stable, 
who feared that Captain Jack had already reached 
that side of the river, and was attacking the other 
party. In this supposed imminent peril, a Klamath 


called Whistler was entrusted with the dangerous 
duty of carrying a message to the military camp under 
a flag of truce. As he did not return, and it was not 
considered expedient to stand a siege under the cir- 
cumstances, when night came on the party mounted 
and set out for Crawley's, preferring the risk of meet- 
ing the enemy to remaining shut up until Jack should 

But the non-appearance of Jack, and the apparent 
inaction of Scarface, were not occasioned by a fight else- 
where, as was conjectured. The company of Klam- 
aths before mentioned as sent by Dyar to reenforce 
Jackson, had been on a scout down the west side of 
the river under Blow, one of the head men on the 
reservation, and returning was seen by Jack, who 
prudently kept concealed. Scarface, too, had been 
frustrated in his designs by the flight toward Yainax 
of two of Sconchin's Modocs, held by him since the 
aflair of the 29th. Seizing a favorable ^ moment, they 
set ofl" at full speed, pursued by half the hostile party, 
which depletion of his numbers left Scarface without 
the strength to make an attack. These at the time 
unknown but favorable circumstances deprived the 
retreat of a portion of the danger in which it was 
thought to be involved, and also prevented the plan 
of an attack on the military camp from being carried 
into eflect as designed. 

Halfway on their journey, Applegate's party were 
met by Whistler, accompanied by the Klamath chiefs 
Dave Hill and Blow, with their company of scouts, 
who returned with them to Crawley's, where the 
forces were so arranged for the night that the Indians 
could not attack without exposing themselves to the 
fire from two camps a short distance apart. It was 
discovered next morning that some of the Indians had 
crawled up within two hundred yards of the camps, 
but fearing to attack had contented themselves with 
taking two horses to show their daring. 

On the morning of the 4th a party of seven citi- 

Cal. Int. Poc. 31 


zens, with thirty-three Klamaths and friendly Modocs, 
returned to Tule lake and brought in all the dead ex- 
cept Miller, whose remains were found about Christ- 
mas, horribly mutilated; and the Younger Boddy, 
who was discovered two weeks earlier. On the way 
to Linkville to bury the dead, on the 5th, Applegate's 
brothers, who were in charge of the property that 
remained undestroyed, and of the expedition gener- 
ally, met a party of fifteen volunteers under Captain 
Kelly, and learned that their father, L. Applegate, 
had started for Clear lake with seven men from Ash- 
land. Fearing he might fall into danger with so 
small a force, they hastened back to camp that night, 
and joining Kelly's company went on to Brotherton's 
place with them on the morning of the 6th. When 
near the lake they could see about a mile away a 
party of eight, whether Indians or not they could 
not tell, and riding along the edge of the lake two 
white men, who they feared were all that was left of 
the Ashland party. Ivan Applegate rode forward, 
and found them to be two advanced guards of a com- 
pany of cavalry from Camp Bidwell on its way to 
Crawley's. Taking Applegate, whose face was painted, 
for an Indian, the guards would not permit him to 
come near, but conversed with him at a distance until 
informed of their mistake. The party of eight, who 
were now known to be white men, and believed to be 
the Ashland party, also concealed themselves in the 
rocks on the approach of Kelly's party, nor would 
they come out until the soldiers went to them and 
explained that their friends wished to join them. It 
was then found that the party consisted of the seven 
Ashland men, under Jesse Applegate, his brother 
being unable to ride any farther. They were trying 
to save some of the property and stock belonging to 
ithe murdered men or their bereaved families. 

Entering lower Klamath lake from the scuth is a 
small stream forking toward the west, the southern 


branch "being known as Cottonwood, and the western 
branch as Willow creek. On each of these branches, 
at the crossing of the roads, was a rancho ; that on 
the Cottonwood being owned by Van Brewer, and 
that on Willow creek by Fairchild. Another stream 
entering the lake on the west side was known as Hot 
creek ; and here too, at the crossing, was a settler 
named Dorris. Others were living in the vicinity. 
Between Dorris' and Fairchild's places was an en- 
campment of forty-five Indians called the Hot Creeks, 
a squalid band, not yet hostile, but which might be- 
come so if left to the persuasions or coercion of 
Captain Jack. These the settlers, after the fight at 
Lost river, determined to remove to the reservation. 
The Indians were not unaware of the position in 
which Jack's band was placed by their refusal to go 
upon the reservation. Being greatly frightened they 
easily yielded, and on the 5th of December started 
for the reservation under the charge of Fairchild, 
Dorris, Colver, and others whom Dyar had been 
notified to meet at Linkville, where the Indians 
would be turned over to him. But being told by a 
drunken German that if they started for the reserva- 
tion they would be killed on the way, they fled. 

Fairchild, Dorris, Ball and Beswick then deter- 
mined to make an effort to persuade Captain Jack to 
surrender, submit to the authorities, and prevent the 
impending war. Being personally well known to the 
Indians, they went accompanied by three of the Hot 
Creeks, and without arms, to seek Jack among the 
Juniper ridges between Lost river and the lava beds 
south of Tule lake. They were successful in finding 
him, and used every argument to influence him to 
accept the proffered peace but without avail. Jack 
rejected any and all overtures that looked toward any 
interference with his liberty, and boldly declared his 
desire to fight, telling Fairchild that he wished the 
soldiers to come, and was prepared for them. Toward 


his visitors, who he knew were actuated by a desire 
to save him as well as the white men, he conducted 
himself in a friendly manner, even lending Fairchild 
a horse to ride, his own having strayed, or having 
been stolen by Jack's band. 

In this conference Jack reiterated his charges 
against the Indian department, and denied all respon- 
sibility in the matter of the fight of the 29th of 
November, saying that the troops fired first; also 
denying that he or Scarface had had anything to do 
with the murder of the settlers which followed, say- 
ing that Long Jim was accountable for those atro- 
cities; pretending to be quite above killing settlers, 
and able to fight armed men. The result of the con- 
ference was twofold. It gave Jack an opportunity 
to gain over the Hot Creeks who accompanied Fair- 
child and through them the whole band ; and it 
convinced the military that no terms need be de- 
manded of the Modocs until they could enforce an 
unconditional surrender. War was inevitable ; and the 
settlers along the route from Lost river to Fairchild's 
immediately removed their families to Yreka, wt.ile 
those in other parts of the country were removed to 
Rogue River valley. Men who must remain in iso- 
lated localities surrounded themselves with stockades. 

When Colonel Wheaton received the letter of 
Superintendent Odeneal, before referred to, it found 
him confined to his bed with quinsy. He immediately 
answered that steps had already been taken to con- 
centrate, if necessary, all the available mounted men 
of Harney, Bidwell, Warner, and Klamath to compel 
the removal of Jack's band to the reservation, should 
they resist ; but he trusted there would be no serious 
difficulty when the attempt came to be made. 

In reply to the letter of Colonel Green informing 
him of Jack's refusal to move, or even to listen to any 
further parley on the subject, and of Superintendent 
Odeneal's requisition for a force to intimidate him, 


i Wheaton replied that being ill, he directed the com- 
1 manding officer at Fort Klamath to represent him, 
i and compel the Modocs to recognize the superintend- 
ent's authority, using all the force at his command 
to this end, and promising to reinforce him with Cap- 
tain Perry's troop F. of the 1st cavalry, and also a 
detachment from Camp Bidwell, under Lieutenant J. 
G. Kyle, which would give him seventy-five cavalry- 
men in addition to Jackson's troop, making an aggre- 
gate force of 150 completely equipped cavalry. He 
directed him to proceed at once upon this duty, in 
every way sustaining the Indian department, but add- 
ing that nothing more than a show of military force 
would be required to awe sixt}^ armed Modocs into 
submission. The consequence of not having made a 
sufficient show of such force is already known. Be- 
fore Wheaton's order arrived at Fort Klamath the 
mischief had been consummated. 

The moment that news of the disaster reached 
Camp Warner, Wheaton dispatched Perry's troop, by 
the way of Yainax, to join Jackson at Crawley's, and 
ordered Captain Bernard from Camp Bidwell, with 
all the men that could be spared from that post, to 
the same point, by the way of the southern emigrant 
road. Perry's company left Bigg's rancho, at the 
north end of Goose lake valley, on the night of the 
3d of December, and Captain Bernard's troop left 
Bidwell, ninety-six miles from Crawley's, on the fore- 
noon of the following day. Both were ordered to 
make forced marches, and not to wait for supply- 
trains, which would follow; and yet with all the haste 
that could be made, a week had elapsed, and ample 
opportunity affi^rded the Modocs to remove to any 
stronghold they might select, before reenforcements 
or supplies reached the camp at Crawley's. 

In order to protect the roads between Linkville and 
other settlements, and the route to Yreka, which 
seemed the first and most important duty. Captain 


Bernard's troop was stationed at Land's place, which' 
was on the east shore of Tule lake, on the border of 
volcanic country popularly known as the lava beds, 
and which extended around the southern shore of the 
lake westward for fifteen miles. From Bernard's 
camp to that particular portion of the lava beds where 
the scout had discovered Captain Jack's band to be 
safely stationed, was about thirteen miles, the trail to 
the stronghold being over and among masses of 
broken rock of every size, and similar in character to 
that which had afforded the Pit Bivers their secure 
hiding-places when General Crook attacked them in 
the autumn of 1867. On the west side of the lava 
beds was stationed Perry's command, at Van Bre- 
mer's rancho, distant twelve miles from the strong- 
hold, at the crossing of Cottonwood creek by what 
was known as Lickner's road, and not far south of the 
crossing of the Yreka road; while Jackson remained 
at Crawley's where Green had his headquarters. 

As fast as transportation could be procured, the 
material of war was being gathered. The governors 
of Oregon and of California were called upon for aid 
by the citizens of both states, the war being almost 
equally in both. Governor Booth of California re- 
sponded by sending arms and ammunition on the call 
of the settlers near the boundary, the arms being out 
of date, and the ammunition two sizes too large for 
the arms Governor Grover, requested by Superin- 
tendent Odeneal to furnish arms to the people of 
Oregon, responded by forwarding an mimediate sup- 
ply. The Washington Guard of Portland, Captain 
Charles S. Mills, tendered its services to the state, 
biit were declined only because a company of volun- 
teer militia organized at Jacksonville, and another 
company raised in Klamath basin had already been 
accepted; the former under John E. Boss, and the 
latter under O. C. Applegate, Applegate's company 
consisted of seventy men, nearly half of whom were 
Indians from the reservation, mixed Klamaths, Mo- 


docs, Snakes, and Pit Rivers. They were occupied 
during the time the regular troops were massing their 
material, in scouting through the country, to prevent 
not only fresh outrages on citizens, but to intercept 
Jack's messengers and spies, whose visits to Camp 
Yainax were a source of some uneasiness. 

Now that Jack had decided upon war, his great 
endeavor was to gain over the Modocs on the reser- 
vation as he had done the Hot Creeks, and in order 
to do this he employed threats as well as entreaties. 
Those who would not help him were to be considered 
his enemies, and killed as if they were whites. The 
Hot Creeks, being off the reservation and unprotected, 
were easily convinced that their safety lay in follow- 
ing Jack; the reservation Indians were differently 
placed. So long as they were loyal to their treaty 
obligations, they could demand the protection of the 
government. It was even for their interest to assist 
in putting down Jack, who they knew would scruple 
■ at nothing to carry his points, or to draw them into 
the trouble he was hhnself in. Sconchin and the 
most intelligent of the reservation Modocs understood 
this perfectly. At the same time there was always 
the possibility that Jack might carry out his threat 
to destroy the camp at Yainax, in which case trouble 
would follow, either through the conflict of the two 
bands, or through the reservation Indians being 
frightened into compliance with Jack's demands. Nor 
was compulsion alone to be feared, but the influence 
of the feelmg of kinship, which is strong among the 
Indians In order to guard against a surprise, the 
agency buildings were enclosed by palisades, and a 
guard maintained day and night. 

When Canby received the report of the battle of 
the 29th of November and the subsequent slaughters, 
he ordered Colonel Mason, with a battalion number- 
ing sixty-four men, to proceed to the Klamath coun- 
try to join the command of the district of the Lakes. 


On the evening of the 3d of December Mason left 
Portland by special train, accompanied by captains 
George H. Burton and V. M. C. Silva, and lieutenants 
W. H. Boyle and H. De W. Moore. On arriving at 
Boseburg, the roads being very heavy with mud and 
the transportation of baggage difficult, the remainder 
of the march to Jacksonville and over the mountains 
in rain and snow occupied nearly two weeks, so that 
it was past the middle of December when Mason re- 
ported to Green at Crawley's. It was not until about 
the same time that Wheaton, having recovered from 
his indisposition, reached Green's headquarters from 
Camp Warner by the way of Fort Klamath, where he 
found the supply of ammunition nearly exhausted by 
issues to the settlers on the day after the battle at 
Jack's camp, necessitating the sending of Captain 
Bernard with a detachment and wagons to Camp 
Bidwell for a supply. 

Meantime neither the Indians nor the troops were 
idle. Captain Perry was still at Van Bremer's with * 
forty cavalrymen. Colonel Ross, in command of the 
Jacksonville volunteers, was at Snell's place, near 
Whittles' ferry. On the 16th of December detach- 
ments from both companies made a reconnoissance of 
Jack's position, approaching it within a mile, and be- 
ing led to believe that it could be surrounded so as to 
compel him to surrender. Of the strength of the 
Modoc position the military authorities knew nothing 
except by rumor up to this time, and had not yet 
learned definitely much. Few whites had ever visited 
this place, the access to which was extremely difficult. 
It was known that the lava beds contained an area of 
ten miles square, broken by fissures and chasms from 
ten to a hundred feet in width, many of them a hun- 
dred feet deep, and that it abounded in caves, one of 
which was said to contain fifteen acres of clear space, 
with an abundance of good water and many openings, 
the largest of which was of the size of a common door. 
There were places in the lava beds where grass grew 


in small flats, the trails to which were known only to 
the Indians, and where their horses were secure. 
From the rocky pinnacles with which the region was 
studded, the advance of an enemy could be discovered 
five miles off, while from their secure hiding-places 
the dwellers in this savage Gibraltar could watch their 
approach within twenty feet. When the stores col- 
lected in the caves were exhausted, they could steal 
out through the winding passages, and watching their 
opportunity drive in the cattle found grazing outside 
the lava beds ; or could in the same stealthy manner 
procure fish and fowl from the lake. Nothing could 
be stronger or better chosen than the Modoc position. 
Should ammunition fail them, they could still make 
arrows. Even in cold weather little snow fell in the 
lava beds, and that little soon melted away from the 
warm rocks. The reconnoissance revealed many if 
not all these advantages, and impressed all minds with 
the certainty that it would be by hard fighting that 
Jack would be dislodged. Among other things, it 
revealed the apparent necessity of using howitzers and 
shells to drive them out of their hiding-places, and 
terrify them. An order was accordingly sent to Van- 
couver for two howitzers, waiting for which occasioned 
still further delay and much impatience among the 
troops, both regulars and volunteers, the latter having 
enlisted for thirty days only, and the time being al- 
ready half spent in comparative inaction. The weather 
was very cold, besides, and the state troops but ill 
supplied with blankets and certain articles of provision. 
Another difficulty presented itself The volunteers 
being state troops had organized to fight in their own 
territory, whereas the Modoc stronghold lay just over 
the line in the state of California ; but Wheeler and 
Green recognized and legalized the invasion of Cali- 
fornia by ordering Ross to pursue and fight the hostile 
Indians wherever they could be found, regardless of 
state lines. 


Actual hostilities were commenced on the 2 2d of: 
December by Jack's band in force attacking a wagon 
from Camp Bidwell, with a small detachment under 
Bernard, when within a mile of camp at Land's, on 
the east side of Tule lake. One soldier, five horses, 
and one mule were killed at the first fire delivered 
from an ambuscade. The sound of their guns being 
heard at camp. Lieutenant Kyle hastened to the res- 
cue with nearly all the troops, only ten being mounted. 
Skirmishing was kept up throughout the day, the 
Indians being driven from one rocky ledge to another 
by the superior arms of the troops, the range of which 
seemed to surprise them greatly. Their object in at- 
tacking was to capture the ammunition in the wagon, 
in which attempt they failed, losing their horses, and 
four warriors killed and wounded. A bugler whom 
they pursued outran them, and made good his escape 
to Crawley's, when Jackson's troop was at once sent 
to the aid of Bernard, but before his arrival the Ind- 
ians had retreated. About the same time the Indians 
showed themselves in small parties on Lost river, op- 
posite the military headquarters, inviting the attack 
of the soldiers, and also on the mountain near Van 
Bremer's, where Perry and Boss were encamped. 
Evidently the apparent hesitation of the troops had 
given them much encouragement. 

About the 25th of December Wheaton, who was 
awaiting the arrival of the howitzers and of ammunition 
from Camp Bidwell before making an attack on the 
Modoc stronghold, had as above mentioned ordered 
the Oregon volunteers to the front. Captain Apple- 
gate, anticipating an early engagement, and fearing 
what might happen in the event of the Modocs being 
driven from the lava beds without being captured, 
sent information of the coming battle to the settlers, 
and instructed them to fortify. The people in Lan- 
gell valley nearest the stronghold, preferred going to 
Linkville ; and while a party of five families were en 
route they were fired upon by Modocs concealed in 


the rocky ridge near the springs on Lost river, twenty 
miles from that place, but were relieved and escorted 
to their destination by a scouting party. A supply 
train on its way from Fort Klamath to headquarters 
was also attacked, and a party of the escort wounded, 
being relieved in the same manner by the volunteers. 

Applegate having transferred the case of Camp 
Yainax to Dyar, who with a guard of fifteen men 
proceeded to take charge, and watch over the friendly 
Modocs in case of a visit from the hostilos, hastened 
to join Green's forces at the front, where drilling and 
scouting continued to occupy the time. Green, who 
retained command of the troops, under Wheaton, 
was ordered to attack the Indians whenever, in his 
judgment, sufficient supplies and ammunition had 
been received, but not to attack until these had been 
furnished, and in the meantime to make frequent re- 

Green had never fought the Oregon Indians, and 
was confident that when his preparations were com- 
plete, he should achieve an easy victory. With the 
howitzers, and one snow storm, he said, he was ready 
to begin. 

On the 5th of January, Captain Kelly of the vol- 
unteers, with a party of twelve men, and five Indian 
scouts, made a reconnoissance to look for a more prac- 
ticable route than the one in use from Van Brim- 
mer's, Green's headquarters, to the Modoc stronghold. 
On the way they came upon a party from Jack's camp 
of about twenty warriors, evidently upon a foraging 
expedition, who retreated toward camp on being dis- 
covered, and were pursued by the volunteers for three 
miles. When overtaken they had dismounted and 
fortified. The volunteers also dismounted, answering 
the fire from the rocks which soon brought to the 
rescue of the beseiged the remainder of Jack's war- 
riors. The soldiers then retreated to an open field, 
followed by the Modocs, who, fiading their position 
unfavorable for attack, returned to their stronghold. 


A run by Applegate with twenty men, around Van 
Brimmer's hill, as the ridge between Van Brimmer's 
and the lava beds was called, revealed the fact that 
the Modocs used this height as an observatory whence 
they informed themselves of the movements of the 
troopSo Scarface afterward said that Applegate's 
party passed within twenty feet of his hiding place, 
but he could not safely attack. On the 1 2th of Jan- 
uary a scouting expedition, consisting of thirteen men 
under Perry, a few Klamath scouts under Donald 
McKay, thirty men, half of them Indians, under Ap- 
plegate, and the whole under Green, made a recon- 
noissance to the lava beds from Van Brewer's, to as- 
certain the practicability of taking wagons to a posi- 
tion in their front. On the appearance of Green with 
Perry's detachment, the Modoc pickets fired on them 
from a rocky point of the high bluff, on the verge of 
the lava beds. Perry returned their fire, and drove 
the Modoc guard over the bluff, shooting one of 
Shacknasty's men through the shoulders. Applegate 
came up in time to observe that the Modocs were 
scattering in small parties to ascend the bluff and get 
on the flank of the troops, when he distributed his 
Indians along the bluff for a considerable distance, in 
the rocks, to intercept them. 

Scarface, who was standing upon a high point in 
the lava beds, discovered the movement, and cried out 
in a stentorian voice to his warriors, "keep back. I 
can see them in the rocks." The Modoc guard then 
fell back half way down the hill, where they made a 
stand, and uttered speeches of defiance to the soldiers, 
and entreaty to their Indian allies, reproaching them 
for joining themselves to their natural enemies the 
white men. Captain Jack and Black Jim were very 
confident, daring the troops to come down and fight 
them on the lava beds. Hooker Jim said, once he 
had been a peace man, but was now for war, and if 
the soldiers wanted to fight, the opportunity should be 
afforded them. One of their medicine men then 



made an address to the scouts, entreating them to 
join the Modocs, saying that if all the Indians should 
act in concert they would be few enough. Donald 
McKay answered them in the Cay use tongue that 
their hands were red with the blood of innocent 
white people, for which punishment would surely fall 
upon them. Jack then said he did not want to fight 
Cayuses, but soldiers ; and growing indignant, finally 
invited them to come and fight him, saying he could 
whip them all. The Klamaths asked permission to 
reply, but were checked by Green, who did not think 
the communication profitable to either side. 

A retreat was ordered, it not being the intention of 
Green to fight on that day, and with so small a force. 
To this Applegate's Klamaths were opposed, saying 
that the troops had the advantage of position, and 
could easily do some execution on the Modocs. As 
the force of Green withdrew. Jack's men resumed 
their position on the high bluff, and Applegate's com- 
pany being then on the summit of the second ridge 
wished to open on them, but were restrained, and the 
command returned to headquarters. 

It was now the middle of January, and nothing had 
been done to relieve the public suspense. The settlers 
in Klamath valley remained in the fort. The road from 
Tule lake southward was closed. Fairchild and 
Dorris had converted their places into fortified camps. 
There was talk of other settlers being exposed, and of 
volunteer companies forming in some of the northern 
California towns to go to their assistance ; in fact Mr 
Dorris had been selected to make personal application 
to the California governor in their behalf. But this 
functionary had other advisers, and had made or did 
soon make a recommendation to the government to 
set apart five thousand acres of land, in the vicinity 
preferred by Captain Jack, as a reservation for the 
Modocs ; and implied at least that it was a desire for 
speculation on the part of the Indian department in 


Oregon which brought on the war ; a charge justly- 
resented by the people of southern Oregon The 
government, however, declined to yield any further 
to the demands of Captain Jack or his intercessors. 

On the 16th of January, everything being in readi- 
ness and the weather foggy, which answered in lieu 
of a snowstorm to hide the operations of the troops, 
the army moved upon Jack's stronghold. General 
orders had been issued on the 12th concerning the 
disposition of the troops, and the most perfect under- 
standing prevailed as to the duty expected of every 
division of the forces. The regulars in the field 
numbered two hundred and twenty-five, and the vol- 
unteers about one hundred and fifty. The latter con- 
sisted of the Jacksonville company, the Klamath com- 
pany, and Fairchild's California company of twenty- 
four sharpshooters who offered their services on the 

At four o'clock in the morning Colonel Green, with 
Captain Perry's troops, moved up to the bluff on the 
south-west of Tule lake, to clear it of Modoc pickets 
and scouts, and cover the movement of the main 
force to a camp on the bluff three miles west of the 
Modoc stronghold, located so as not to be observed 
by the enemy. By three in the afternoon the whole 
force on the west side of the lake, consisting of Mason's 
battalion ; two companies of infantry under Captain 
Burton and Lieutenant Moore; a detachment of an- 
other company, under sergeant John McNamara; 
the Oregon volunteers, commanded by General John 
E. Ross ; two companies under captains Hugh Kelly 
and O. C. Applegate; Lieutenant Miller's howitzer 
battery ; Captain Fairchild's sharpshooters — all but 
seven of the scouts, dismounted, and provisioned with 
cooked rations for three days, had been meanwhile 
encamped in a juniper grove, with a picket line 
thrown out along the edge of the bluff, and another 
around the camp. 

Captain Bernard's force on the east side of the 


lake, consisting of his own and Captain Jackson's 
companies, and twenty regularly enlisted Klamath 
scouts under Dave Hill, had been ordered to move up 
to a point not more than two miles from the Modoc 
position, to be in readiness to attack at sunrise ; but 
proceeding in ignorance of the ground, he came so 
neai: to the stronghold that he was attacked and 
obliged to retreat with four men wounded. 

The camp was early astir on the morning of the 
l7th. As the troops looked down from the high 
bluff upon the lava beds, the fog which overhung it 
resembled a quiet sea. They were to plunge down 
into this, and feel for the positions assigned them. 
Mason with the infantry occupied a position on the 
left of the line, resting on the lake, with Fairchilds 
sharpshooters flanking him; to the right of the in- 
fantry were the howitzers; in the centre General 
Wheaton and staff, Major General Miller and General 
Ross and staff; on the right of the generals captains 
Kelly and Applegate; and on the extreme right 
Captain Perry's troops, dismounted ; Colonel Green 
in command of the whole. Descending the bluff by 
the narrow trail, surprised at meeting no Modoc 
pickets, the troops gained their positions in the order 
given about seven o'clock. Hardly had the line 
formed when the Modocs opened fire. It had been 
the desig^n of Wheaton to move out on the rig^ht until 
Green's command met Bernard's in front of the 
Modoc position, when three shots should be fired by 
the howitzers to announce a parley, when Captain 
Jack would be given an opportunity to surrender. 
But to carry out this programme, it was soon dis- 
covered, was impossible. The Modocs were not to 
be surrounded in their stronghold and asked to capitu- 
late, but forced the troops to fight for every foot of 
ground on the way toward it. 

On account of the density of the fog — which now 
was found to be an obstacle instead of a help to suc- 
cess in reaching the central cave, the Indians having 


the advantage of being familiar witli the passages 
among the rocks, whereas the troops were obHged to 
scramble over and among them as best they could, 
at the risk of falling any moment into an ambush — • 
the movement aimed at on the right was extremely 
slow. Nevertheless, it was steadily pushed forward, 
all caution being used, the men sometimes lying down 
and crawling prone over the rocks within a few yards 
of the Indians, who could be heard talking, but who 
seldom could be seen, though they were able to see 
through openings in their defences the approaches 
of the troops as far as the fog would permit. 

The howitzers, which had been so much relied 
upon to demoralize the Indians proved useless so long 
as the enemy's position was concealed from view. 
The line, after advancing a mile and a half, was 
halted, and a few shells thrown, causing some excite- 
ment among the Modocs, over whose heads they 
passed, falling beyond Bernard's line on the east side 
of the stronghold ; but through fear of hitting Ber- 
nard's troops the firing of the battery was suspended 
and Green pushed on the west line by a series of 
short charges another mile and a half passing over 
ravines running and sounding the war-whoop. 

It is related by Applegate that Green, who during 
this advance carried one of his gloves carelessly in 
his hand, was frequently shot at by the concealed 
Modocs, who attributed his immunity from harm to 
some charm or ^'medicine" contained in this glove. 
They also shot at Captain Applegate and his brother 
Ivan who accompanied him, with similar results, from 
which they inferred these pers(ms had received pro- 
tection from a miraculous power, and that powder 
and shot were wasted upon them. The recklessness 
of Green was remarked upon by his command as well 
as b}^ the Indians. 

About one o'clock the extreme right of the line, 
which now enveloped the stronghold on the west and 
south, was brought to a halt by an immensely deep 


and wide ravine which separated it from Bernard's 
line on the other side, and which strongly guarded 
the stronghold, being close at hand. Green at once 
saw that it could not be crossed without an immense 
sacrifice of life. A consultation with Wheaton and 
other officers led to a change of plan, and it was de 
termined to move the west line b}^ the left around 
the north side of the Modoc position, along the shore 
of the lake, connecting with the right of Bernard's 
force from that direction. An order was given to 
reorganize the line for withdrawal, which, owing to 
the difficult nature of the ground, was not understood 
by all the officers, and created a confusion which but 
for the all-enveloping fog might have resulted in a 
heavy loss. 

" While we were charging down this ravine," writes